Lookout Mountain, GA – With a strong group of returning players, another solid recruiting class joining the program next month, and a brand new on-campus field being completed in the fall, the Covenant College softball team has a new leader. Covenant College announced on Tuesday that it has hired Sara Russell to be its new softball coach. Russell comes to the Lady Scots from Kentucky where she played and coached at Mid-Continent University, and where her husband William has served as the baseball coach. William Russell will join the Scots baseball staff, assisting Doug Simons.
Sara Russell was named the Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference "Softball Coach of the Year" in 2006 after her Mid-Continent squad finished 14-7 in the KIAC, with a 28-26 overall record. Her coaching success followed an outstanding playing career at Mid-Continent where her pitching and hitting prowess earned her first-team All-Conference honors from 2002-2005, and KIAC "Player of the Year" recognition in 2002. She was also named an NCCAA All-American in 2005.
"I am thrilled about the coaching and ministry opportunities at Covenant College that are before me. Not only will I get to coach the great game of softball, but I will also get to impact the lives of my players daily for Christ," said Russell. "I am excited to be part of a program that not only cares about their student-athletes' academic excellence and future careers, but also about their walk with Christ."
Russell grew up in Canada, in Duncan, British Columbia, playing on all-star and traveling softball teams from ten to eighteen years old, including two World Series appearances in 1994 in Portland, Oregon and in 1996 in Kalamazoo, Michigan. While pitching for a traveling team out of Vancouver, she was invited to Mid-Continent for a recruiting visit and tryout, which ended up bringing her to the U.S. for a collegiate career.
In addition to her time at Mid-Continent, she has been teaching pitching to youngsters at the Diamond Academy in Paducah, Kentucky, as well as coaching a traveling team in summer ball. She has also been a popular teacher at coaching clinics and has worked with a Kentucky high school squad too.
"We are all very excited to have Sara join our coaching staff, and for her and William to become a part of the Covenant College family," said Director of Athletics Roy Heintz. "We believe we are getting a great coach, who has succeeded at the college level, and has demonstrated great enthusiasm and coaching ability at all levels. She is a quality teacher, very organized, and a Godly woman. Our returning players and incoming recruits loved her when they spent time with her in the interview process."
With all of that, one other thing made her an interesting choice for Covenant College. Sara Russell's maiden name was Wallace, and she is actually a descendant of Sir William Wallace, the Scottish knight and patriot who fought for Scotland's freedom in the 13th and 14th centuries. His life was portrayed by Mel Gibson in the 1995 film "Braveheart."
"Our athletic teams are the Scots and Lady Scots – how in the world could we not hire Sara at Covenant?" asked a laughing Heintz. "Are you kidding me? That is a great storyline in itself. If you are at Covenant, you've watched Braveheart, and you know the story of what William Wallace did – I'm sure we'll have some fans show up for games at the new softball field in kilts with their faces painted. They've got to – we have a Wallace in our family now!"