Kvilhaug’s Team

The fortunes of this year’s softball team are under a new leader, one who might not have been where she is now if not for a change in plans one day when she was nine years old.

After previous coach Debbie Dejong left St. John’s to be the assistant athletics director at Dowling College, the softball team was left without a coach. Dejong had taken over for Melody Cope in 2005. Enter Amy Kvilhaug, 31, who had been coaching at Radford University in Virginia for the past four years.

“The day I found out Debbie resigned, I called St. John’s and tried to set up an interview,” Kvilhaug said. “I never really had a dream job, but this could be it.”

Kvilhaug came to St. John’s with the experience of being a head or assistant coach for 11 years at Providence, Rutgers, Seton Hall, and Radford University. She also added to her coaching resume with an eight-year pitching career that included a Big East title and NCAA birth in 1994 while at Providence, in addition to a stellar career at Taunton High School in Massachusetts.

“High school was great for me,” she said. “I was always all-state this, and first team that. Whatever honors you could receive in high school, I was it.”

Despite all of her achievements, she remembers it all started one afternoon when she got a change in plans from her father, Joe Kvilhaug.

“One day when I was nine years old, he said ‘we’re not going skating,'” she said. “‘We’re going to softball tryouts.'”

Even after making the team, and starting in the outfield, she remembers it was not an easy sport for her to pick up initially.

“I was the kid you didn’t want on your team,” she said. “When I turned 12 and got a little more coordinated, they put me on the mound. I didn’t want to, but they needed me to so I did.”

Despite all her success, her relatively young age gives her the ability to connect with her players in ways an older coach wouldn’t be able to.
“This coaching staff is more involved than the last one,” said Lisa Geer, a junior pitcher who has been with the team since 2003. “During practice, they run the bases with us. I feel a positive energy with the new coaches.”

This new infusion of energy to the team will hopefully translate into the kind of success that Kvilhaug had at Radford. While at Radford, she compiled a 127-115 record and had three straight seasons of at least 30 victories. Last year the team had 40 wins and made its first-ever appearance to the Big South championship game.

With her recent success and a bright forecast, the fortunes of the team appear to be headed in the right direction.