There are times a coach leaves their post for greener pastures, but other times there just needs to be a change. News broke the afternoon of Tuesday, Sept. 6 that former Utah Valley University softball head coach Nikki Palmer was leaving UVU for a coaching position at University of California-Riverside. In this case, a shake-up was necessary for both parties.
There’s a management philosophy that says leadership should be changed every three years. Coincidentally, Palmer’s timeline fit with this ideal. During that time, Palmer’s Wolverines played to an overall record of 45-126, including a Western Athletic Conference title in her first season despite an 18-42 record.
A coach’s tenure can easily be marred by a poor record and on-field dysfunction. This can obviously be a sign of a bad coach, but it can also be a sign of a growing coach or one that is simply in a situation that doesn’t fit.
Before his time with the Seattle Seahawks, head coach Pete Carroll spent time heading the New England Patriots, where he coached to a 27-21 record that showed a steady decline in performance over his three-year stint.
Carroll then went back to college at USC, where he coached the Trojans to a 97-19 record over nine years. After the completion of the 2009 season, Carroll returned to the NFL, where he led the reeling Seahawks to a back-to-back Super Bowls—including one title—after just four years.
Coach Palmer may not be the next Pete Carroll of college softball, but coaches don’t fit in every situation. UC Riverside may be fertile ground for Palmer’s coaching style, while UVU proved to be a place where she struggled to find the recipe to build a consistent winner.
A departure from UVU may prove beneficial to both parties. Carroll was replaced in New England by current head coach Bill Belichick. The same Coach Belichick who has led the Patriots to a 4-2 record in the Super Bowl. Belichick, by the way, also failed with Cleveland by coaching the Browns to a disappointing 36-44 record.
By no means am I saying UVU softball is guaranteed a renaissance with the presence of a new coach. However, Wolverine softball has had tremendous talent on the roster over the last several years, including 2016 all-conference selections Brittney Vansway and Breezy Roth. A fresh voice in the UVU dugout may have the ability to unleash the potential on this team, and a change of scenery may do the same for Coach Palmer.
I’m a Pacific Northwest guy who loves his Pacific Northwest sports. An amateur movie buff who prefers the disc to digital. Chasing the sports writing dream while I geek out on Assassin’s Creed.