By Kat Riddler, Editor-In-Chief
A new assistant coach has joined the University of Missouri-St. Louis’ softball team: Lauren Lappin. The U.S. Olympian and recently-retired professional softball player was announced as the new assistant softball coach on September 27.
Lappin comes from Roosevelt University where she spent four seasons with UMSL’s Head Softball Coach Amanda Scott. Lappin was with Scott since the softball program’s inception in 2013 at Roosevelt.
Scott said, “Lauren and I coached together at Roosevelt. We were actually both born and raised in California and have known each other for quite a while. She has fantastic energy and real passion for the game and for teaching the game. I feel very lucky to have her join us her at UMSL.”
Reflecting on her time at Roosevelt, Lappin said, “Being a part of all of the firsts and witnessing that group of young athletes take such pride and investment in building a foundation for the future of that program was something really unique. What I loved most about Roosevelt softball was that it made me appreciate the game in a new way and connect to the purity of it that is often lost these days in youth and college sports.”
Scott asked Lappin to be UMSL’s assistant softball coach under her command. Lappin loved the idea of working with Scott again and enjoyed UMSL’s campus as well. Lappin said, “Having coached with her going on five years then hearing the type of culture and support she observed while visiting campus for her interview, I was sold… [T]he history of success for the UMSL softball program speaks for itself. To build on that history and be able to compete for a National Championship while staying invested in the enrichment of our student-athletes is an opportunity I wouldn’t pass up.”
Lappin is from Anaheim, California and brings national and international experience to the team. She was part of the U.S. National Team from 2003 to 2010 and a member of the 2008 silver medal-winning squad at the 2008 Summer Olympics. She also helped the U.S. win the 2010 World Championship. More of her feats include being an alternate for the U.S. Olympic Team in 2004 and helping Team USA to World Cup Championships in 2007 and 2010. In the 2007 Pan American Games, she also helped Team USA win gold. She described playing professionally and internationally as the time for athletes to focus on training. She noted most of the drive comes internally to be better and train harder. The other driving force comes from the external pressure to perform with elites of the sport. Lappin said, “There’s a reason you see baseball players really come into their prime in the middle of their careers. Same goes for softball players. It is the emotional maturity and mental toughness that really separates college and professional or Olympic level of play.”
Collegiately, Lappin played at Stanford from 2003 to 2006 and was a two-time NFCA All-American. A decorated softball player, she was twice named the PAC 10 Defensive Player of the Year and was named on the 2006 Women’s College World Series All-Tournament Team. Lappin described college as being the place to find out the next step in one’s softball career. She said, “College is where you get to train every day and really hone your skills on the field. That is where I saw the most physical development in my game.”
Previously, Lappin played for the USSSA Pride, winning the National Pro Fastpitch League (NPF) Championship in 2010. Having retired from her five-year career playing NPF in March 2015, Lappin said, “Playing in the NPF was the most competitive softball environment I’ve ever experienced. The NPF athletes are the best in the game and facing that level of competition day in and day out you are forced to keep adjusting every single pitch. I was fortunate enough to play with some of my best friends and with some really awesome coaches and people and I got to play until I was 30.”
Lappin started playing softball at the age of eight. It was not until she was in high school that it became her favorite sport. She started as a catcher in her younger years, but became more of a middle infielder during her collegiate and professional years. She said, “I always tell people that second base became a favorite, because I feel like it combines the mental approach of a catcher with the athleticism required of a shortstop.”
Although she comes from a family of coaches, Lappin did not think coaching would be a possibility for her until college. She said, “I think I was bound to be a coach before I even knew I wanted to be. I come from a family of coaches and educators so it’s in my blood and upbringing.”
Despite Lappin’s incredible softball skills, she admits that coaching is different than playing it. She said, “In order to teach the game you have to be able to articulate it, and do so in numerous ways, more than anything physical that is required to be able to play the game competitively. You also have to be able to connect to 16-20 different athletes in order to maximize their potential and most importantly to be able to support and develop them as humans.”
Excited to start the season in the spring, she said, “[Scott and I] are very excited to watch our team compete. I’m not sure they know how good they really are. We have a well-balanced team offensively and defensively and everyone will be called up to contribute. We have our sights set on a national championship.”
Lappin continued, “We feel really lucky to have inherited such a great group of humans in this program. They are extremely hard workers who take pride in their commitment to each other. That is a very special quality of a team that you don’t genuinely come across often. We can’t wait to celebrate that and each one of them through their successes this coming season.”