Two-time state champion coach has big hopes to continue the legacy
Admiral Farragut Academy Lower School PE Instructor Diane Stephenson is much more than that. She has lived and breathed softball for 50 years and has over 30 years coaching collegiate and high school softball.
Where her love for softball started
“I joined a women’s open team when I was 12 years old with my older sister that was 13 months older than me. We were the youngest on the team and most of the other girls were in high school or above,” said Stephenson.
“I come from a family of nine children and we had a competitive mindset. The youngest and oldest were artistic and the rest of us in the middle were athletic. Growing up, my older brother Danny always made sure the girls got to play in the neighborhood games. He would say, ‘the girls are playing and they are going to be on my team.’ We learned that we were able to compete as females at a very young age.”
Where it continued professionally
Beyond high school, Stephenson went on to play collegiate softball at Indiana University and was the first female to receive a full athletic scholarship and become an IU All-American female athlete. She also earned her bachelor’s degree in Teaching Physical Education/Health/Safety and her master’s degree in Athletic Administration from Indiana University.
Stephenson coached softball in the Big Ten for 27 years, 17 were spent as head coach and 10 as an assistant coach. She has experience coaching at universities and colleges including her alma mater Indiana University, as well as the University of Iowa, Purdue University, and St. Joe College. Today, Stephenson remains a member of the hall of fame for Indiana University, Elkhart County Hall, and Concord High School.
“It’s really important to me that young women have a positive role model, have something that they’re passionate about, and understand that they each have the same opportunities to go and play.”
In 2016 she retired from collegiate coaching and started private coaching. Through those connections, Stephenson was hired at Academy at the Lakes in 2017 as the 5th-10th PE and Health instructor and head softball coach. While there, she was integral in the varsity softball team becoming two-time State Champions and a Regional Runner-Up. During that time, she was also voted Florida Softball Coach of the Year two years in a row.
When joining Farragut in 2019, which is a mile from her home, Stephenson was the Lower School PE Instructor by day and the Middle School Girls Volleyball Coach by night. Although she loves volleyball, she did not coach this 2020-2021 year due to indoor COVID-19 concerns, but she says she is more than ready to get back on the outdoor softball field.
Softball teaches the lessons of life
Now she will coach softball but she also plans to teach lessons of life. “My motto is that in order to be successful in life you have to be a competitor,” said Stephenson.
“It’s really important to me that young women have a positive role model, have something that they’re passionate about, and understand that they each have the same opportunities to go and play. Coaching in college is all about winning, but in middle and high school it’s about developing character, working hard, and competing. Winning and losing will take care of itself. I want our girls to have pride playing for and representing Farragut, doing things because its right, and always striving to be better.”
We look forward to seeing what’s in store for our Farragut Softball “LadyJackets” during the 2021 season and beyond under her leadership.
“After taking last year off from coaching softball, I am truly excited to be back on the field here at Admiral Farragut Academy,” said Stephenson. “Many thanks to Athletic Director Matt Olesnevich and the entire administration for their trust in me with our athletes.”
Saying Goodbye to Coach Hoopes
Former BlueJacket Head Softball Coach (2019-2020) William “Bill” Hoopes announced in September he was stepping down due to the long commute from his home to the school.
Hoopes was head coach in 2019 when the Farragut Varsity Softball team made history again, winning their second Class 3A state softball championship in a row which, this time, it wasn’t just school history, but local history as well. The team became one of only four bay area teams to have ever won two straight softball titles. Unfortunately due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the girls were unable to try for a third.
We appreciate what he did for the team and we wish him the best in his future endeavors.
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