SOFTBALL | Goodwin steps up to the plate

Jen Goodwin joins the Yale softball program from two years at the National Fastpitch Coaches Association.
Jen Goodwin joins the Yale softball program from two years at the National Fastpitch Coaches Association. Photo by Mason Kroll.

Over the summer, the Yale softball program made a change at the top, replacing former head coach Barbara Reinalda, who had led the team for eight seasons, with Jen Goodwin and moving Reinalda to the position of associate head coach.

A search committee was formed near the beginning of the summer to select the Bulldogs’ new coach. Administrators, students and alumni interviewed candidates and ultimately selected Goodwin for her strong hitting background and Ivy League coaching and recruiting experience, senior associate athletic director Amy Backus said.

Goodwin’s selection was announced Aug. 10. She said her transition has been very smooth, and she and the team are looking forward to getting out on the field.

“Yale is an outstanding university with a lot to offer,” Goodwin said. “Having coached in the league previously, I understand the philosophy and the goals and truly believe Yale offers the ultimate balance for our student-athletes.”

As associate head coach, Reinalda will continue to lead the team on and off the field. While her exact responsibilities are still to be determined, she said she plans to work with the pitchers and catchers and maintain a role in the office operations. Reinalda was inducted into the softball Hall of Fame in 1999 for her hugely successful 19 years pitching for the Raybestos Brakettes.

Although she is no longer head coach, Reinalda said she has no intentions of leaving the softball program.

“In the coaching world there are changes every year,” Reinalda said. “I am on board with whatever is going to better the program.”

Goodwin spent the last two years as the assistant executive director for the National Fastpitch Coaches Association. Prior to her work at the NFCA, she spent two years as Harvard’s assistant coach. There, she recruited two-time Ivy League Pitcher of the Year Rachel Brown and helped lead the Crimson to the Ivy League championship in 2007.

The search committee placed heavy emphasis on Goodwin’s experience, especially in recruiting, and in the Ivy League, Backus said. Goodwin said her passion for offense and intention to focus on the team’s infield and hitters will also allow her to balance Reinalda’s pitching and catching expertise.

“We know we need to be a better hitting team,” Backus said. “We think that [Goodwin’s hitting background] will be a very important balancing process for the duo we have.”

Goodwin met team captain Christy Nelson ’13 last Thursday and the rest of the team on Friday. Nelson said the team did not know there would be a new head coach when the season ended but was informed of the search in late June.

The softball team, which is currently in its off-season, has not yet set its team goals. Goodwin said she hopes to see the team “catapult up” in the Ivy League standings from last year’s last-place finish. Nelson said one of Goodwin’s strategies is to reevaluate the team arrangement and force the team to fight for their positions before the season begins.

Rhydian Glass ’16 said Goodwin struck her as enthusiastic and very out there to win.

“[Coach Goodwin] is incredibly motivated, very enthusiastic and very competitive,” Glass said. “She’s got some great plans for bringing the program to the next level.”

While the search was taking place, Reinalda led the team’s recruiting effort. She traveled around the country throughout the summer and presented Goodwin with a strong group of prospective student-athletes, Goodwin said. Goodwin has already seen some of them, and she said she has been extremely pleased.

Backus said the pairing of Goodwin and Reinalda will be very beneficial for the softball team this season.

“We hope that [Reinalda’s] wealth of experience will continue to be a great asset to the program,” Backus said. “We’ve partnered her with a new head coach who will bring new ideas on strategy. We hope that she will have the success she envisions and that it will be a great partnership for years to come.”

Last year, the softball team finished with a 12–34 overall record and a 5–15 record in the Ivy League.

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