Posted By Karin Slyker |
LUBBOCK, TX - Sometimes, even a national search leads to the realization that the best person for the job is already working just a few miles down the road. Texas Tech Athletic Director Gerald Myers today introduced Shanon Hays, who has guided the program at Lubbock Christian University for the past three years, as new head softball coach for the Red Raiders. Hays will become the seventh head softball coach in the history of the program, and the fifth since the sport was brought back as an original member of the Big 12 prior to the 1996 season.
"We have studied the pool of applicants, sought out expert advice and conducted a thorough investigation of where the collegiate softball game is headed and all roads led us back to Coach Hays being the best fit for Texas Tech," said Gerald Myers.
With an incredible inaugural year national championship for the Lady Chaps in 2008 already under his belt, Shanon Hays boasts a remarkable 114-16 record in two years on the field at LCU. He was appointed in 2006 and worked for a full academic year in preparation for that first season in 2008. Known as a top-flight recruiter and motivator, he brings with him honors such as 2008 NAIA National Coach of the Year, is the two-time Sooner Athletic Conference Coach of the Year (2008 and 2009) and has produced five National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) and NAIA first team All Americans in those two years.
"Words can't express just how thrilled I am to be here at Texas Tech. After meeting with the administration, I am totally convinced that Tech is committed to having a first-class program that the Red Raider and Lubbock community can be proud of. It is a great opportunity for me to be a part of that. It is also exciting having the opportunity and challenge to coach in a great conference like the Big 12. With the new facilities that are being built here, I think Texas Tech Softball has a very bright future," he said.
Hays began playing fastpitch softball as a youth, along with baseball and basketball, because his father, the legendary Texas Tech and LCU baseball coach Larry Hays, also played fastpitch softball. Hays, the elder, whose 1,509 wins were good enough for fourth on the all-time collegiate baseball list, retired as Tech's all-time winningest coach prior to the 2009 season.
Shanon Hays, who will become the first person at Texas Tech to coach for two completely different sports--one men's and now one women's‑-also served as an assistant basketball coach for the Red Raiders for two seasons and headed the men's basketball program at Abilene Christian University for three years prior to that, amassing a 58-26 record there. Head basketball coaching stops also included a year at Frank Phillips College and two years at Midland College before returning to ACU as its athletic director for a year before switching his focus to coaching softball with his appointment at LCU.
"The time I spent in administration and in coaching basketball was really great for me," Hays said, "but having played fastpitch for a number of years I was intrigued about coaching it. I love the game and I have found coaching women to be a much more satisfying experience than working with the guys, no offense to them," he joked.
"For me, I enjoy the competition and enthusiasm and the ability these players have to embrace new challenges and to get better. And, frankly, I just love the sport itself. I wish I had made the switch to softball many years ago," he added.
Hays played both basketball and baseball for LCU in 1987 before transferring to Texas Tech to compete for three years as a member of the Red Raider baseball team. He graduated with a degree in history from LCU in 1991 and began his career in coaching and administration. The local product graduated from Lubbock Monterey High School with honors in 1986.
Much of the decision to add Coach Hays to the Tech staff centered on three things: his remarkable accomplishments as a proven builder of a program, his ability to recruit top-caliber athletes on a national level, and the belief that, because he is already familiar with Texas Tech and Lubbock, he will be able to quickly pick up where the previous coaching staffs left off.
"Coaches Wilson and Suiter, did an exceptional job moving the program forward over the past five years. There are solid players on the squad and the infrastructure improvements that have been made under Coach Wilson's watch were ideal and are progressing very well. I'm very excited about our possibilities here at Tech and in the Lubbock community. There isn't a better place for me to consider making this move and not another job in the country I would have considered leaving my team at LCU for. I am just extremely thankful to Mr. Myers for giving me this opportunity."
And, for Tech, it appears that the saying, "all roads lead home" has never been more accurate.