Thursday, CJ Combs was named the Lady Tornadoes head coach.
“I am pretty excited,” Combs said. “It is going to be a new adventure for me. It’s a new place and a whole different type of town. It is going to be a new adventure, so I am excited.”
This is Combs’ first head coaching position. Combs was the assistant coach at Indian University Southeast. She said when she is on the field winning is the only thing that matters.
“I am pretty tough when I am on the field, but I am there to win, so you have to do what you have to do to win,” Combs said.
Combs played for IUSE in 2009 after transferring from Kalamazoo Valley College. During her playing career, she was a pitcher and, for the last two seasons, she coached the pitchers and the catchers.
“I worked as an assistant coach at Indiana University Southeast,” Combs said. “I mainly worked with the pitchers and the catchers. I played at IUSE. I am more of a defensive minded coach, but I know offense pretty well, too.”
The Lady Tornadoes recorded an 8-25 season and won the Gulf Coast Atlantic Conference championship. TC lost both of their games in the NAIA Unaffilated Group Championship, but the winners decided to play in United States Collegiate Athletic Association tournament.
Their decision opened the door for TC to get the automatic bid to the NAIA National Tournament.
“I know a little about the team from last year,” Combs said. “I haven’t got to meet the girls yet or see what they can do. I am looking forward to that, so I can see what is already here and what I need to bring to make us a championship team.”
Being hired late is going to make recruiting tough for Combs. TC only had one senior graduating, but they will have to get players to add depth.
“It is going to be hard to recruit; it is kind of late,” Combs said. “I just have to reach out to resources, do some online stuff for people that are looking to be recruited.”
TC Athletic Director Will Ramos is elated about Combs being at the helm of the softball program.
“We see many pluses that she brings to the Talladega College softball program,” Ramos said. “I think she will be a coach that will recruit and use all the resource that we have here to make the team better. That is the big plus that she brings. She knows the game of softball very well. She did very well in the interview. The people that she knows are well respected in the nation in softball. This is her first job as a head coach, but as you know the coaches that we bring here we try to give them an opportunity. All of them are doing good right now. I look forward to her having a good year. We are very happy to have her. We want to welcome her to Talladega College family. We know that women athletics are going into the right directions and she is going to be a big part of it.”
Ramos said the softball program didn’t experience the NAIA National Tournament like they were supposed too. He said he hopes Combs will provide the players with that experience.
“The softball team did make the National Tournament by default,” Ramos said. “They competed and represented us well. We are very proud of what they did. The young ladies worked very hard when they went over there. We are looking for another direction. It is not easy to make the tournament. We want the girls to have the full experience of being a student-athlete. I think Coach CJ will give them that. We want our coaches to do 5 a.m. condition, to do weight room, to take them to 55 games. We want them to have the full experience. Last year, it was a great experience to go to the National Tournament. Now, since we know how it is when we get there, we are going to bring a culture here and when we get over there we want to win.”