Kim Wilson’s resume is as impressive as it can get for a softball head coach at the collegiate level and this upcoming December, the Rowan softball head coach will add even more to her illustrious resume.
Coach Wilson, along with Florida State Head Coach Lonni Alameda, National Fastpitch Coaches Association Executive Director Carol Bruggeman and retired Moravian University Head Coach John Byrne, will be inducted into the National Fastpitch Coaches Association Hall of Fame.
As she approaches her 27th season as head coach at Rowan, she enters it with the sixth most wins all-time for any coach in NCAA Division III history with 901 and the 16th highest winning percentage of all-time. She has accrued eight New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) Coach of the Year honors throughout her career and has taken her team to the NCAA tournament 18 times.
Before landing in Glassboro, Wilson coached at Washington and Jefferson College for six seasons, winning Coach of the Year honors in her time there twice. Combining all these accomplishments is why the National Fastpitch Coaches Association views Coach Wilson as a fitting member for their Hall of Fame.
Those around her, however, don’t believe it’s just because of the winning percentage or conference titles. They believe the moments, experiences and relationship-building off the field as the things that set Wilson apart from just any other coach.
When current Rowan catcher Korie Hague, who is entering her 5th season as a player under Wilson, was asked about playing under the legendary coach and what exactly makes her so special, she gave a quick and decisive answer.
“She cares about us,” Hague said. “There’s coaches that just care about you for softball and only softball… with Coach [Wilson] it’s not like that.”
There was a particular instant that Hague recalls that is a prime example of Wilson caring about her team on a personal level.
“My freshman year I lost my grandpop, Coach [Wilson] didn’t even know me, and she took the time to show up to his funeral,” Hague said. “It happened very early on in preseason, I lost my grandpop in February and I started the program in September, so it’s not even a year and she took the time. That’s just one example of many.”
One of Coach Wilson’s assistant coaches, former Arcadia star Mary Murray, further emphasized just how much she cares about her players, even when they’re no longer her actual players.
“In her calendar on her phone, she has the birthdays of every single alumni that has ever graduated from the program,” Murray said. “Every single day she is texting someone different for their birthday.”
The assistant coach went even further with this sentiment.
“She really makes and sets this expectation in the program that we really want to know you as people,” Murray said. “Not just inside a practice, come inside our office, hang out in between classes, talk to us. So that we can all have that relationship off the field that, you know, makes that relationship on the field that much stronger.”
Inviting the players inside the coach’s office to hang out is one of the ways Coach Wilson and her coaching staff build a strong relationship with their players. Another is by always making sure that the players are having fun while they are a part of the Rowan softball program.
One example of this to do that — leaving practice in the middle and come back dressed in inflatable dinosaur costumes. This event took place just this past season during the team’s last Saturday afternoon practice in the fall.
“She [Coach Wilson] had some inflatable dinosaur costumes sitting around her house from during Covid. She bought two of them, three of them, however many we didn’t have for the whole staff and during that practice we all individually left the field. We just snuck off and put on the dinosaur suits and kind of surprised the team. It was all caught on video and stuff,” Coach Murray said. “We have fun.”
When the story was brought up to Hague she immediately lit up and explained that at the time the team was doing a drill called “double drill.” This is where the team hits ground balls over and over again, but as a catcher, Hague doesn’t field these ground balls with the rest of the team.
So when Coach Wilson asked Hague to take the drill over and start hitting the ground balls to the other players, she didn’t see it as something really out of the ordinary.
“As a catcher, I always hit ground balls so I said alright yeah. Well, they disappear and they’re all gone and they come out in dinosaur costumes and come running on the field,” Hague said. “Everyone was laughing.”
Hague ended her side of the story, which she says is in her top five best memories while playing softball at Rowan.
“She’s always laughing, she’s always joking with us. Softball is a game of failure and she gets that,” Hague said. “She knows that we’re going to make mistakes, so she tries not to be tough about it and keep the situation light. Keep everything loose.”
For 26 seasons, Coach Wilson has kept the Rowan locker room light and loose. It is a safe bet the same will continue in her 27th, but there is one thing that will be different this year.
There are still going to be birthday wishes and practices being run by a coach in a dinosaur costume, but this time the coach sending those wishes and the coach in that costume will be a hall of famer.
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