From Greyhound to Panther

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After seven years of playing and working as a graduate assistant for the University of Indianapolis softball team, alumna Cori Eckerle will begin her career as the head coach of Hanover College’s softball program.

Eckerle spent all four of her undergraduate years playing as a catcher and infielder for the UIndy softball program. She began her education in nursing before realizing that she wanted to make coaching her career.

“I originally was a nursing major, and I always kind of knew I wanted to coach on the side. Then I ended up changing my major, because I didn’t love nursing,” Eckerle said. “I ended up realizing that I wanted to coach collegiality.  So I decided to switch over to exercise science, because I thought it worked better with coaching.”

After graduation, Eckerle continued her education by going to graduate school to receive her master’s degree in business administration while also working as a graduate assistant coach for Head Softball Coach Melissa Frost. After finishing her master’s program, Eckerle was job searching and came across the opening at Hanover College and decided it was a good fit, and began the interviewing process.

According to Frost, Eckerle was always very dedicated to the game, even when she was just a player on the team. She was a leader on the field, which contributed to her success as she transferred into the coaching role.

“She [Eckerle] was a real go-getter,” Frost said. “She was the commander on the field, and she really stepped in and commanded the field from her freshman year on. And that’s one thing that we saw in her as a recruit, when she was very young. She really developed into what this program is all about. I think that is one of the big things, is that she took on that leadership role from the moment she stepped on the field as a freshman all the way through her entire career here.”

Frost also said that what set Eckerle apart as a player and graduate assistant was her passion for learning more about the game. Through her undergraduate years as a player, into her time as a graduate assistant, she was always eager to gain more knowledge about the game.

“I think she was always a student of the game,” Frost said. “That was always the thing. Either watching other softball or major league baseball, she always was hungry to learn something more, and I think that was the biggest thing. And from a catching perspective, she has great knowledge of the game. Any opportunity she had to learn, that’s what she would do.”

When Eckerle switched roles from player to coach, she began learning what work coaches put into planning their overall season. She developed her coaching skills by learning what went into practices, lineups, and other behind-the-scenes aspects of the game. During her years of learning from Frost and Assistant Softball Coach Sara Kubuske, Eckerle developed a sense of what she wanted her own program to contain.

“Four big things that I think are important when running a program are accountability, honesty, respect and discipline. And those are four things that Coach Frost and Coach K [Kubuske] instill in the UIndy program, which make them very successful,” Eckerle said, “not just on the field, but in the classroom and down the road in life.”

Despite the UIndy team losing Eckerle, Frost said she is eager for the season and to work with the new graduate assistants that will take her place.

“I think anytime that you lose somebody of her magnitude, as a leader and as a player, and then to step in and being a part of the coaching staff, especially at a pivotal time with some of the personal stuff last year,”Frost said.,“having a person that you trust like that is just huge. But what a great opportunity for her at Hanover to lead that program. I’m just really excited for her and the opportunities to come. We have hired new GAs this year, so we are very excited for their caliber and their work ethic and their credentials coming in.”

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