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 > Little League Online > Media > Little League News Archive > 2010 > May - August > Message of Success from NCAA College Softball Coaching Legend Sue Enquist … Prepare, Love, Honor the Game

Message of Success from NCAA College Softball Coaching Legend Sue Enquist … Prepare, Love, Honor the Game

Message of Success from NCAA College Softball Coaching Legend Sue Enquist … Prepare, Love, Honor the Game

Coach Enquist to Be Featured Guest at Little League Softball World Series

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Sue Enquist has won more collegiate national championships than anyone in the history of softball. She was the first softball All-American, National Champion and Hall of Famer from the University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA), but her love of game all begin with her experiences in Little League.

Coach Enquist is scheduled to attend the opening ceremonies of the 2010 Little League Softball World Series at Alpenrose Dairy Farm in Portland, on Aug. 11. While visiting the 36th Little League Softball World Series, Coach Enquist also will meet with the World Series teams, coaching staffs and umpires, and provide a speech on the subject of performance at high levels of competition.

Introduced to baseball by her brother, Bill, and practicing, if not playing, in the San Clemente (Calif.) Optimist Little League, Coach Enquist embraced the competition, camaraderie and complexity of baseball, and later, softball.

“I was the official shagger for all the foul balls at batting practice,” Coach Enquist, who in the late 1960s was not allowed to play Little League due to rules limiting Little League to boys, said. “My Little League coach was the late John Springman and his son, Bill Springman, who played on the team and now works for the Minnesota Twins organization. I would not be the coach and former player I am today, if not for the Springmans and my brother, who laid my foundation for the love of the game.”

In 1968, Coach Springman allowed an 11-year-old Enquist to take rounds of batting practice after her brother’s practices as a reward for chasing down balls for 90 minutes in the heat and sun of a typical California summer.

“I even received a trophy at the annual banquet,” Coach Enquist said. “I’ve kept it all these years because it meant so much to me. It’s a joy to recognize Little League because it set a standard of excellence for me as a person, athlete, and teammate... I love Little League.”

Sue Enquist, the player, honed her baseball and softball skills through her teenage years and even played junior varsity baseball at San Clemente High School for one of her mentors, Coach Joe Cludy. She is considered the first girl in California to play high school baseball, and she credits the distinction of playing both sports for getting the attention of UCLA recruiting scouts.

Turning exclusively to softball once in Los Angeles, she was an immediate standout. Four years later, she completed her UCLA playing days with a career batting average of .401 and was a key player on the Bruins first National Championship team. That same year, she graduated with a degree in kinesiology. During her tenure as both a player and coach at UCLA, Coach Enquist tallied a combined 1,314 wins.

The NCAA brought women’s sports under its umbrella beginning with the 1981-82 academic school year. UCLA won that inaugural NCAA softball championship and has since played in a record 17 championship games or series, winning titles in 1982, ’84-85, ’88-89, ‘90, ‘92, '99, 2003 and '04.

A former World Champion and USA National Team coach and player, Coach Enquist is the only person to have played on the first U.S. Pan American gold medal softball team (1979) and to coach on the first U.S. Olympic Softball Team National Staff (1996). At the ’96 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Ga., the U.S. Softball team won the sport’s first gold medal.

One year later, Coach Enquist took over as Bruins head coach, following the retirement of long-time Bruin mentor Sharron Backus. The two served as co-head coaches from 1989-96.

“I had some great coaching influences while at UCLA,” Coach Enquist said. “Coach Backus taught me that the game doesn’t know how old you are, or who is suppose to win.

“The responsibility of playing the game has you do what you need to do when it comes time to do it,” Coach Enquist said. “I learned from Coach Backus the hardest thing to do is to keep the game simple. From that I built my coaching philosophy – Simply put, softball is about 60 feet and turning left.”

Coaching greatness was at a premium at UCLA in the 1960s and 70’s with the iconic men’s basketball coach John Wooden in the athletic department. When it came to discussing and sharing coaching philosophies, there was no better.

“One of my greatest coaching influences was Coach Wooden,” Coach Enquist said. “Each week during the season, our softball team would break down another part of his Pyramid (for Success).”

Two lessons that resonated from those team discussions and influenced Coach Enquist was the understanding that every day is a masterpiece, and to be successful you must establish the peace of mind in knowing that you have done your best to be the best that you are capable of being.

In 2006, Coach Enquist concluded her 18th and final season as UCLA’s head softball coach.  It was her 27th year as a member of the UCLA Bruins coaching staff. During nearly two decades as head coach, she amassed a record of 887-175-1 (.835 winning percentage), making her college softball’s most successful manager. She is the first person in NCAA Softball history to win a national championship as a head coach and a player.

“I came from a very small town,” Coach Enquist said. “I was the player that wasn’t the biggest, fastest or smartest, but still I learned through Little League that I have no limits.

“My brother was 11 months older than me, and he constantly challenged me to go for it,” Coach Enquist said. “Coach Springman made it fun to compete and I’ve learned that coaches need to have a sense of serving the game. Coaches provide knowledge and inspiration and hope. Starting in Little League, I realized that my coaches were preparing the team to go for it. At the end of each day you would be judged on how well you prepared not by just how you executed or failed.”

Coach Enquist managed 65 All-Americans and 15 Olympians, and has been inducted into the UCLA Hall of Fame, Women’s Sports Foundation International Hall of Fame, the National Fastpitch Coaches Association Hall of Fame, and the Capistrano Unified School District Hall of Fame. Coach Enquist is also the recipient of multiple National Coach of the Year and Pac-10 Coach of the Year honors.

“Softball asks that you master the fundamentals of the game, give 100 percent effort and a positive attitude,” Coach Enquist said. “Players must learn that the team comes first and that we are all playing for something bigger than ourselves – the team.

“Through all of my years as coach, we were able to sustain those same guiding principles,” Coach Enquist said. “Baseball and softball are timeless sports. You want players to know it’s OK to have fun, take baby steps to get better, enjoy the process and understand that you (the coaching staff and team) will be there to support them when it gets hard.”

Off the softball field, Coach Enquist has gained the reputation as a dynamic and highly sought after international motivational speaker. Currently, she is the featured speaker at more than 30 seminars for parents, coaches and players across the United States.

A native of San Clemente, Calif., Coach Enquist surfed professionally from 1979-81 and continues to be an avid surfer. She currently resides in San Clemente, Calif.

SueEnquistUCLA-Coaching-170pxThe following is a list of Coach Enquist’s accomplishments and honors:

  • Coach Enquist was awarded the 2004 C. Vivian Stringer Coaching Award by the United States Sports Academy for her accomplishments at UCLA. The award pays tribute to those who have made significant contributions to sports, and is named in honor of C. Vivian Stringer, the Women's Basketball Hall of Famer who is the only coach to take three different schools to the Final Four.
  • In December, 2005, Coach Enquist was announced as a Hall of Fame Inductee by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association.
  • Coach Enquist is a three-time Pac-10 Coach of the Year, earning the honor in 1995, ‘99 and 2006.
  • Coach Enquist was the first softball inductee to the UCLA Hall of Fame, as a member of the Class of 1993.
  • As one of eight softball coaches chosen to work with the U.S. National Team, Coach Enquist was involved in the preparation of the gold medal winning U.S. Olympic Team for the 1996 Summer Games in Atlanta, Ga., the inaugural Games for softball as an Olympic medal sport.
  • Coach Enquist was the head coach of the 1993 Olympic Festival Championship team, and coached the USA Pre Elite National Team in July, 1994.
  • She also was a member of the coaching staff for the gold medal winning 1994 World Championship team, contested in Canada.
  • During Coach Enquist's tenure as co-head coach and head coach (1989-2006), 32 players earned 58 All-American honors.
  • Coach Enquist was UCLA’s first All-American, earning the honor in 1978 after being named All-Region in 1976, ‘77 and ‘78.
  • 15 Bruin Softball Olympians, representing 31 Olympic selections, representing, three countries (USA, Australia, and Puerto Rico), during 4 quadrennials (1996, 2000, 2004, 2008), were all coached by Coach Enquist.
  • All of UCLA’s current coaches (Head Coach Kelly Inouye-Perez, assistants Lisa Fernandez and Gina Vecchione and volunteer assistant Natasha Watley), 2010 National Champions are UCLA graduates and were managed by Coach Enquist during their Bruin careers.
  • Coach Enquist has 1,314 combined wins in her Bruin softball career as a player and coach.