Feb. 23, 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 — After retiring from a professional playing career, Stacy Johnson wanted to stay a part of the game and pursue collegiate coaching full time. When an assistant position opened at her alma mater following the 2010 season, she jumped on it.
“I wanted this job right away,” said Johnson, formerly Stacy May, who played for the Hawkeyes from 2003-06 and served as a student assistant in 2007. “Right when it came open, I knew I wanted to pursue it.”
Johnson closed her playing career with the Chicago Bandits in the National Professional Fastpitch (NPF) league on top. In 2010, she was the NPF League Most Valuable Player and a league all-star.
She finished her career as one of the most decorated players in NPF history, being recognized as the NPF Rookie of the Year, two-time NPF League MVP and three-time NPF All-Star. Rather than return for a sixth season, Johnson hung up her spikes and moved to the opposite end of the dugout.
Fortunately for Johnson, Iowa’s new head coach, Marla Looper, was looking for a tie to the state and/or program when rounding out her coaching staff. When Johnson’s resume came across her desk, the pieces fell into place.
“I wanted to find someone that had a connection with Iowa whether it was as a player, a former coach or someone that grew up in Iowa to have that upper Midwest connection,” said Looper. “It’s nice having an alumna on board because she has a different sense of pride and ownership of the program. She wants to make sure it’s on track and doing what it is supposed to, the right way.”
Johnson’s Hawkeye roots run deep, as she was a key member of the team during her four years in Black and Gold. She started every game in her Iowa career (247) and was a three-time NFCA all-Midwest Region and three-time all-Big Ten selection. In her first year in Iowa City, Johnson was selected as the Big Ten Freshman of the Year after helping lead Iowa to a regular-season and conference tournament titles.
The former Hawkeye shortstop’s name still graces the Iowa record book, popping up in 11 different offensive categories. She closed her career with a .338 batting average, tallying 264 hits and 60 walks to just 38 strikeouts, while finishing with 23 home runs and 109 RBI.
It’s a bit of nostalgia for Johnson as she returns to Iowa as a member of the coaching staff, four years after leaving the program.
“It is exciting because I feel like I have some unfinished business here,” said Johnson. “To have the opportunity to come back and compete to go to the Women’s College World Series is pretty cool.
“That is what I wanted as a player, and I never had the opportunity, but now I know coming back here as a coach, I’ll have that opportunity. It’s nice to be able to get a second crack at it.”