Jan. 25, 2011
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Editor’s Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa’s Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide.
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Marla Looper had plenty of opportunities to join the head coaching ranks during her 11-year stay at University of Texas. Fortunately for the Hawkeyes, she waited for the right fit and landed in Iowa City.
With the success she was a part of in Austin, Looper’s name was prevalent in the coaching circles as a “head coach-in-waiting”. After all, she helped the Longhorns to three Women’s College World Series appearances and nine NCAA Tournament berths in 11 seasons. But when push came to shove, Looper was waiting for the “right fit”
“When I decided to take the step into a head coaching realm, I didn’t want to go to a place that would be a stepping stone. I feel like if I am going to make a commitment to something and someone then I want to be there and establish it.”
UI head coach Marla Looper
. “When I decided to take the step into a head coaching realm, I didn’t want to go to a place that would be a stepping stone,” said Looper. “I feel like if I am going to make a commitment to something and someone then I want to be there and establish it.
“Fortunately when this position came open, I felt the program was in a good position. I like the challenge of hopping into a program that is pretty good and trying to take it back up to the pinnacle of where it used to be.
“I’ve never been one to tip-toe into things. I like to jump in headfirst and give it all I’ve got and if my best isn’t good enough, so be it, but I can guarantee I’m going to give it all that I’ve got.”
During her stint with Texas, Looper served as the pitching coach from 1999-2005, where she mentored softball great Cat Osterman to the USA National Player of the Year Award in 2003, 2005 and 2006. Her pitching staff led the nation in earned run average in three of her final four years.
“I’ve had the privilege of working with some phenomenal softball players, but ultimately in my coaching, I want them to be phenomenal people,” said Looper. “They’re here to play a sport and get their education, but they’re also here to grow up and be good citizens. I think that if you can mix the life skills with the softball skills some things happen that you never can imagine.”
Looper has a plan on how to get the Hawkeyes back on track after missing the NCAA Tournament in 2010.
“I am going to build our program on grit, stick-to-itiveness, determination and ability,” explained Looper. “It takes a little bit of everything to really grow a program. We’ve got a lot of hard workers, blue collar type kids.
“We have to bring in some of the blue-chip kids that have some God-given natural ability that you can’t fathom. We’ll work on that and add to our blue collar work ethic and they’ll feed off each other.”
Looper promises one thing about her program: her team will give it their all on the diamond each and every day.
“I expect that every day we are on the field, we will strive to be better than the day before. When we get out in games, we will leave it all out on the field. We don’t ever want to look back and say — oh I could have, should have or I wish I would have. We need to have the grit and determination to finish the game, not just start it.”
Looper and the Hawkeyes play a difficult schedule in her first season in Black and Gold, but she is up to the challenge.
“My philosophy in our program is to be the best, you have to play the best and then start beating the best,” said Looper. “This year gives us a little taste of that. We’ll get some great opportunities and chances to be really prepared to play in a predominant conference. I’m really looking forward to it.”