Meet the new softball coach

After a record-breaking college softball career as a pitcher for Saint Joseph’s University followed by a record-breaking assistant coaching career at the University of Pittsburgh, Lauren Cognigni joins the Golden Grizzlies as the new head coach of softball. The Oakland Post sat down with Cognigni to chat about the new role.

Was the choice to coach at Oakland a right place – right time situation or is there something about Oakland that you’ve always been attracted to?  

I would say it was the right place, right time. I’ve been an assistant for nine years. I was really looking to become a head coach. That was my ultimate goal when I got into coaching. I had never been on Oakland’s campus before my interview but I ended up loving it and loving its surroundings and what they have to offer academically and athletically. Before then, I did not know much about Oakland other than [Pitt] played them in the [NCAA] regional a few years ago.

What are your thoughts on joining the Horizon League and its competition regarding softball?

I think the competition level in the Horizon League is pretty good. It’s definitely a winnable conference and I think that as long as we have the right kids and the right mindset at Oakland we can win the conference for sure. We just need to work up to it as we start here… I told the girls in our meeting that my goal is to win the Horizon League. Maybe that doesn’t come right away and I hope that if it doesn’t, we’re still there, we get there and we can get to the championship game and get some more experience each year in getting to that championship game and not being left out of it.

You’ve helped multiple schools set pitching related records during your time as a player and as a coach. How do you believe your pitching specialties will be an asset to Oakland?

I think I’m going to bring a lot of experience as far as pitching is concerned. I have a lot of knowledge about it… and to be completely honest if you have a good pitcher, you can get pretty far in your conference tournament and in post-season and that’s what we’re looking to do so I’m hoping that the pitchers are open to my ideas and thoughts and some of the processes that we like to go through but really, I’m excited to get started with them and make them, hopefully, the best pitchers up until this point that they can possibly be.

Are there mostly returning players or are there new players coming in that you’ll be working with?

There’s a good mix. There are about ten new payers coming on and about ten returning. I think it’s going to be good for our energy and our culture and what we’re trying to build at Oakland.

Off the field, how do you plan on building a team morale and community within the team?

We’re going to be doing a good amount of team building activities. One I’ve talked to the girls about is communication as a big part of my coaching style. I communicate to them; I’d like them to communicate to me as a unit. I think when that alone is done in practice and in study hall and in the classroom that helps the team morale because you have this sense of ‘people are here to help you.’

And we all want each other to succeed. This isn’t an every player for themselves kind of thing. I don’t know how they’ve felt in the past but that’s my philosophy on coaching a team and bringing a team together is trusting and communicating with each other and doing some team building things – community service outside of the field and things like that.