Sue Kunkle, Women's Head Softball Coach

On and off the field, Sue Kunkle, women’s head softball coach, strives to make every moment count for her “kids.” Coaching her team through a losing streak early in the 2018 season, to capture the NCAA Division II Championship, required a set of skills the head coach has perfected during her career: mentoring, positivity and a goal-driven mindset. “Confidence is a huge part of success, and I want all of our athletes to succeed, not only in athletics but in life as well.”

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Sue and assistant coach talk with pitcher

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Sue and team talk in outfield

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Sue gives a player a high five as they make their way to the dugout

Kunkle credits her college coaches at California University of Pennsylvania, where she was a standout pitcher and record-breaker (1990-1994). They encouraged her to follow her passions and become a relationship- and trust-builder with teams of her own. “When you have relationships with your kids, they play for you, the staff, their teammates and themselves, not just the program.”

I always have taken an interest in getting to know my kids. Players that gain a close relationship with coaches and have trust in their staff build a program that is more successful than those programs that have no trust or relationships with their coaches.

Pushing athletes to be their best is what Kunkle has been achieving at USI for the past 18 years--delivering more than 500 wins over the course of her career. Winning, however, isn’t her main motivation. “Wins are wonderful, but the experience is the main thing,” she says. “The overall wellbeing of my kids is first and foremost. That has always been my focus.”

Kunkle was drawn to USI because of its feel and future. “I instantly fell in love with the family feel and the competitive program. I knew that I could succeed here with the staff's support, and I knew that with my coaching style and the type of players that I was going to recruit, I would have the opportunity to win and do something special.”

And she had,…not just in the record book, boasting GLVC and NCAA II Tournament victories that she attributes to teamwork, but by being part of the University’s team that prepares young women for diverse careers and leadership opportunities off the field. “It is our duty, as coaches, to send them down the right path to be the next group of positive role models in society, representing our University and program in a respectful and professional manner.”

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National champions pose with their trophy

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National champions arrive to their homecoming celebration by firetruck

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Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke declares “USI National Championship Day” in the City of Evansville in celebration of the national champions

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