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First and Foremost

Assistant softball coach making an impression

Maddie Holub celebrates a play Feb. 6, 2015, during Saint Leo’s 3-0 loss to Shorter. MIKE CARLSON / SAINT LEO UNIVERSITY

Saint Leo University’s Maddie Holub will have a hard time topping her first year on the job.

Holub, 25, was named the National Fastpitch Coaches Association’s Division II Assistant Coach of the Year in her debut season.

Developing athletes who are just a few years younger than she is, Holub oversaw a pitching staff of two returnees and an incoming freshman. They threw a program-record 18 shutouts in 2015 with a 1.23 team ERA, good for second-best in Division II. The previous season, the Lions recorded just eight shutouts. Pitching coach is just part of Holub’s job; she also is the outfield coach and recruiting coordinator.

While playing at Fort Hays State University in Hays, Kansas, Holub displayed the skills that would make a great coach. In 2013, she was named to the 2013 NFCA and Daktronics All-America first teams as a pitcher and was tabbed the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association Pitcher and Player of the Year. “It makes me relatable. I remember what it’s like to wear the cleats every single day,” Holub says.

She doesn’t have to look far for a coaching role model: Saint Leo head coach Erin Kinberger was Holub’s coach at Fort Hays State. “She’s so passionate and fiery, and really does bring out the love of the game,” says Holub, who also served as a graduate assistant at Fort Hays State under Kinberger. “She gave me such a great experience as a player, and I learned so much from it.”

Kinberger says one of the proudest moments in her own career was when Holub was recognized by the NFCA.

Holub credits an emphasis on relationship-building as a key to her success. She also considers herself a creative coach who enjoys teaching the mental and physical aspects of the game. Holub believes the psychological part translates to the statistical.

Saint Leo pitcher Alana Tabel credits Holub’s presence for helping her realize her potential. As a sophomore, Tabel had a 3.47 ERA. Last season, the junior pitched 17 complete games with five shutouts en route to a 16-5 record and a Division II-best 0.94 ERA.

Like any great coach, Holub draws excitement from the accomplishments of her students. “You could truly tell the difference in her body language,” Holub says of Tabel. “It was inspiring to watch happen.”

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Champion magazine goes behind the headlines and beyond the scoreboards to celebrate the unique connection between Americans and college sports. Champion is published by the NCAA.

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