DURHAM, N.C. — North Carolina Central announced Theresa Stephens as its head softball coach on Monday. Stephens joins NCCU with more than eight years of coaching experience at the Division I, II and III levels, as well USA Softball and semi-professional playing experience.
“I am very excited about joining the Eagle family and I am very blessed to be given this opportunity to rebuild the program,” said Stephens. “Having the opportunity to coach against these young ladies during the past few years at Campbell really did inspire me more to want to coach them and be a part of North Carolina Central.”
Prior to accepting the position at NCCU, Stephens was the top assistant softball coach at Campbell, primarily coaching and developing a pitching staff of five student-athletes. Preceding her three years at Campbell, Stephens was the assistant softball coach at UNC Pembroke during the 2007-08 year. As a member of the UNC Pembroke coaching staff, Stephens assisted the squad in setting or tying 33 school records in 2008, along with ending the year with an overall record of 46-15 and finishing 17-1 in the Peach Belt Conference.
Stephens obtained her first head coaching position at Meredith, a Division III institution in Raleigh, N.C., where she spent two seasons leading the Avenging Angels. In all of her travels in North Carolina, Stephens attributes the beginning of her coaching career to Greensboro College, where she served as the assistant coach and an adaptive physical education assistant from 2003-05.
“I am so very excited about Coach Stephens,” said Director of Athletics Dr. Ingrid Wicker-McCree. “With her background as a head coach and assistant coach on the Division III, II and I levels, she brings a wealth of knowledge about the game.”
As Stephens looks to rebuild the program, there are three character traits she believes are key to success: energy, passion and leadership.
“Energy is one of the things I would like to bring to this program – getting them fired up and getting them to play with a purpose by helping them to remember why they play this sport,” said Stephens. “I want them to look forward everyday to practice and games, and I want them to build that swagger a confident player should have.
“I will also bring passion to the program, through myself and the staff I surround the young ladies with,” Stephens said. – “When they see how passionate we are, how much we love the sport and how much we care, they will be drawn to that desire to want to succeed. Finally, I feel that I will display strong leadership qualities that anyone will be proud of and desire to follow. If I am a strong leader on and off the field, my student-athletes will emulate that same behavior on and off the diamond.”
Stephens obtained her bachelor’s degree in therapeutic recreation with a concentration in behavioral health from Temple in 2003, after a two-year stint at South Carolina State. The Phoenixville, Pa., native played softball at both institutions and was honored numerously for her pitching and utility abilities. While a sophomore at SCSU in 1999, she was named an Onnidan All-American. During her freshman year in 1998, Stephens was invited to the United States Olympic Team Trials.
After graduating from Temple, Stephens played in with a trio of women’s major class A fastpitch organizations, the New Jersey Majestics, Pennsylvania Royal Ladies and the Pennsylvania Haze over the course of four years.
“Our softball program is headed in the right direction and Coach Stephens will be able to continue taking us to the next level in Division I,” said Wicker-McCree. “Our young women will definitely benefit from her experiences as a coach and a dynamic young woman.”
Along with Stephens’ dedication to success on the diamond, she is even more dedicated to success in the classroom.
“Education is so important,” said Stephens. “I do not want this team to just be champions on the field, but I also want them to strive to be excellent in the classroom.” – “It is my belief that competing in the classroom will carry on to competition on the field.
“As coaches, we are in our student-athletes’ lives’ - most of the year and their parents are expecting us to lead them in the right direction both in the classroom and in their social lives. Players who trust and respect you will value the advice and guidance you provide for their education and growth.”