Softball Coach Amy Kvilhaug Steps Down After 12 Seasons


Softball Coach Amy Kvilhaug stepped down after 12 seasons. TORCH PHOTO/NICK BELLO

Sean Okula, Staff Writer

Every coach must decide. Strategy, batting order, pitching changes. Decisions will always have consequences, good and bad. But any coach, at least any good coach, will decide using past performance and reason.

As Coach Amy Kvilhaug moves on from St. John’s softball and pivots to a career of life and performance coaching, she applies this sensical principle one last time.

“She knew we were talented athletes but she always know how to [push] us to be better,” incoming senior pitcher Madison Morris explained.

Maximizing potential is a key to Coach Kvilhaug’s next chapter. The last 12 years at St. John’s have been good practice.

It is the job of a player to perform. Coaches only push so far, and characterizing their role as chief decision-maker and motivator and not much else wouldn’t be an egregious reach. Coaches coach, and players put up results.

All of that said, there’s been one constant in softball’s seven Big East tournament appearances since 2006. Kvilhaug’s impact was felt. Her Red Storm résumé speaks for itself.

Those conference tournament appearances, together with 281 wins, two-regular season Big East titles, a conference championship, and the school’s first trip to the NCAA Tournament in 2015 say a lot. Fresh off a 32-win season this past spring, Kvilhaug is walking away from a program she guided to previously unimaginable heights.

“Coach K. had a very competitive nature and loved to win,” shared senior outfielder Christina Melendez. “She was dedicated to helping us excel on and off the field.”

“She was not only focused on us as athletes but as individuals, she cared for each of us and our families,” added Morris. “She had a way of making the program feel more like a family than just a team.”

Both players shared a sensation of shock upon first hearing the news. Morris expressed a longing to play under Kvilhaug for the entirety of her four-year St. John’s career, albeit understanding the difficulty of the decision. The timing was assuredly surprising, yet unsurprisingly sensical at the same time.

She took over a program at a crossroads in the summer of 2006. Fresh off back-to-back losing seasons, the Johnnies had never finished with an above-.500 conference record since joining the Big East in 1991.

The 2007 team, her first squad, slugged just 23 homers and posted 3.25 runs per game en route to a losing campaign, the first of seven straight losing seasons to begin her St. John’s coaching career.

In 2018, the Red Storm mashed a program-record 62 moonshots. They scored over five runs per contest, and capped off a fifth straight winning season with another appearance in the Big East tournament.

Coach Kvilhaug had reached the culmination of a twelve-year turnaround. She turned a program lost in the shuffle of a power conference into a powerhouse of its own, with plenty of power bats to supplement a spell of power arms and a recharged roster ready to lead the Johnnies into a new era of softball at St. John’s.

She departs with the program in an exponentially better state than it was some twelve years ago. That sense of satisfaction, even without any national titles to show, defines coaching success.

The search is on to find the next leader of a squad returning a slew of talent for 2019. Whoever that may be, the standard in the locker room has been set high.

“She cherished this program and everyone involved in it,” Melendez said. “I wish her nothing but success and happiness in her next chapter.”