From Gridirons To Diamonds

Oct. 22, 2009

Editor’s Note: The following article first appeared in the Oct. 19 edition of the Official Sports Report (OSR) for the University of Iowa. OSR is a daily e-newsletter exclusively about the Iowa Hawkeyes. Click HERE to learn more.

IOWA CITY – For Shane Bouman, fall used to signify football fields and touchdown passes. Now, it means softball diamonds and rise balls.

Bouman is entering his third season as the pitching coach for the Iowa softball team, who just finished their fall season, but his roots aren’t only planted in fastpitch. Bouman was a stellar quarterback at his alma mater, South Dakota State, and still carries a passion for the game that is rivaled by few.

“People ask me to pick a favorite – football or softball,” Bouman said. “Both sports have played such a huge part of my life and I love aspects of both of them. Anything that involves a team competing is fun for me.”

The Ruthton, MN, native also carries impressive credentials, in both sports, with him at Iowa. Bouman started in men’s fastpitch softball as a teenager, competing in summer tournaments before high school football preseason camp would start. He credits his father in getting him interested in pitching.

“My dad played softball all the time,” Bouman said. “I would hang around the field during the summer when I was a kid and watch him play. I always enjoyed playing and it just kind of took off after that.”

Bouman was one of the most respected pitchers in the mid-to-late 1990’s, where he led teams to nine International Softball Congress World Tournaments, placing third in 1995 and fifth in both 1996 and 1997. He was a four-time Amateur Softball Association all-American and a two-time North American Fastpitch Association all-American. The world’s best pitchers throw in the low-to-mid 80’s from only 46 feet. “There were guys throwing harder than me, but we really didn’t have a hard time getting it to the plate,” Bouman joked.

But, softball wasn’t the only the sport that Bouman had an arm for. He was quite the high school quarterback, and signed to play college football at South Dakota State University. He earned four letters as a Jackrabbit, and was a three-year starter under center. He was named all-North Central Conference in 1991 and finished his career with a 100.72 quarterback efficiency rating.

Even during his college years, Bouman found the time to pitch.

“We would play in dozens of tournaments over the summer,” Bouman said. “We would play hundreds of games, but still stay in football shape. I don’t think our coaches were too pleased that we would show up just a day early for two-a-day football camp, but it was really special competing against some of the best softball players in the world.”

Not only was Bouman a standout quarterback at SDSU, he served as holder for all PAT’s and field goals. During his senior year, Bouman was the holder for a young kicker by the name of Adam Vinatieri, who is currently a Super Bowl champion and considered one of the best clutch kickers in NFL history.

“Adam was just a kid when I held for him,” Bouman said. “But you could tell right away that he had some special characteristics about him” Bouman added.

The Bouman family is also well connected in the NFL. Shane’s youngest brother, Todd, is an 11-year veteran quarterback in the NFL. Todd played college football and basketball at St. Cloud State, and signed with the Minnesota Vikings in 1997. Todd also played with the New Orleans Saints, served as Brett Favre’s backup in Green Bay, and also spent time with the Baltimore Ravens and the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Both Shane and Todd, along with their middle brother Troy, played fastpitch, and were on many of the same teams that had success in world tournaments. Todd usually served as the team’s third baseman, while Troy roamed center field.

“Some people call us a football family because we were all quarterbacks,” Bouman said. “But, we are probably more of a softball family. From my dad, all the way down to my brothers, we are softball players.”

Bouman took his knowledge and applied it coaching women’s softball after graduation, where he has enjoyed a successful career. He started as the head coach of the women’s softball team at South Dakota State, where he became the winningest coach in school history after a six-season stint.

He then took the pitching coach job at Iowa, and immediately produced results. During his two seasons at Iowa, the Hawkeyes have recorded an 84-36 mark (.700 winning percentage), and his pitchers have a combined earned run average of 1.30. The Hawkeyes have also qualified for the NCAA Tournament the previous two seasons. Bouman enjoyed a successful first season at Iowa in 2008, as the Hawkeye pitchers garnered top-25 national rankings in four categories. The Hawkeye pitching staff finished seventh nationally in team earned run average (1.23) and Brittany Weil finished the season ranked 22nd in individual wins (28) and 23rd in earned run average (1.22). Weil was also a four-time Big Ten Pitcher of the Week honoree, first-team NFCA all-Mideast Region selection, and second team all-Big Ten pick. Amanda Zust finished the season ranked 14th in hits allowed per seven innings (3.87) and 24th in earned run average (1.24).

In his second season at Iowa, Bouman once again guided the pitching staff to national recognition. Iowa’s pitchers finished the 2009 season with a 1.38 ERA, which ranked seventh-nationally. In addition, Brittany Weil either broke or tied six school records during her senior campaign, and also tossed five no-hitters, including a perfect game. Bouman guided Weil to Iowa’s first ever NFCA National Player of the Week honor, and she was also named Big Ten Pitcher of the Week four times. Bouman coached Weil to NFCA second team all-America honors, first team NFCA all-Midwest Region and first team all-Big Ten honors.

Even though Bouman is heavily involved with softball, he still takes time to enjoy football Saturday’s in Iowa City. He regularly attends games in Kinnick Stadium, and has become good friends with Iowa’s Offensive Coordinator and Quarterbacks Coach, Ken O’Keefe.

“Coach O’Keefe is a great coach, but even a better person,” Bouman said. “He is a great motivator and a very inspirational individual who cares about each player and puts them in a position to have success every time they take the field. I know I would have loved to play quarterback for him. What he is doing at Iowa is fun to watch and makes it great to be a Hawkeye fan.”

So during the fall, look for Bouman on the field. Now, whether that’s the lined turf of Kinnick Stadium or the chalked lines of Pearl Field is for Bouman to decide.