Linda Kalafatis (pronounced Cal-UH-fat-tiss) has been named the head coach of the College of Charleston softball team, becoming the fifth coach all-time in program history, the Department of Athletics announced Tuesday.
Kalafatis joins The College from The Ohio State University where she spent 16 seasons and established herself as one of the most successful coaches in the Big Ten and the NCAA. In 2012, Kalafatis became just the 19th coach in Division I history to eclipse 800 wins, just the second Big Ten coach to achieve such a milestone. She left Ohio State as one of the top 25 active coaches in the nation.
"We had several qualified candidates and a difficult decision to make," said Laura Lageman, Associate Athletic Director and Senior Woman Administrator at CofC. "In the end, her outstanding experience separated Coach Kalafatis from the rest and solidified her as our new coach. She is a proven winner as one of the most successful coaches in the country and we couldn't be more excited to bring a coach of her caliber to our program.
"She has shown an ability to develop student-athletes both on and off the field. This is an exciting opportunity for the Cougars."
Kalafatis comes to Charleston with an overall head coaching record of 811-473-2 with stints at her alma mater California (Pa.) and Akron prior to her tenure at OSU which began in 1997.
In her 16 seasons at the helm of OSU, Kalafatis guided the Buckeyes to a 538-358 record, earning her the best win total and winning percentage in program history. She led the team to six NCAA Tournament berths, including the program's first-ever NCAA Super Regional appearance in 2009.
Under her tutelage, the Buckeyes captured both the Big Ten regular season and tournament crowns in 2007, and finished the year ranked in the Top 25 with a 40-18 record. Kalafatis, who earned her second Big Ten Coach of the Year honor in that 2007 season, led the Buckeyes to at least 30 wins in 10 of her 16 seasons with the squad. Kalafatis also earned conference Coach of the Year honors in 2002 when the team recorded a program-record 55 wins and earned an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Also while at Ohio State, Kalafatis and her staff were recognized by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) as the 2007 regional coaching staff of the year. She has served the NFCA as the Division I representative, the Chair of the D-I Head Coaches Committee and a member of the Executive Board.
She has shown an ability to develop both the team and the student-athlete, guiding two Ohio State Female Athletes of the Year, nine All-Americans, a Big Ten Player of the Year and two Big Ten Freshmen of the Year. She has also coached nine players to the Women's Professional Fastpitch League.
In addition to her on-field accolades, Kalafatis has proved her determination and ability in motivating her players to succeed academically as well. At OSU, she recruited and coached over 150 OSU Scholar-Athletes and two Academic All-Americans, while her team maintained a minimum 3.0 GPA and a 1,000 on the NCAA's Academic Progress Rate, noting a perfect graduation rate.
Kalafatis was a key component in raising over a million dollars for the construction of Buckeye Field which doubled its capacity in 2009. She also led a campaign which raised over $150,000 for breast cancer research.
"I'm proud to be a Cougar," said Kalafatis. "The program has a winning tradition and I hope to continue that and build upon the recent success the Cougars have seen. It is an exciting time to take over the program as we transfer into the Colonial Athletic Association which has seen Hofstra and James Madison build a winning tradition over the last decade. I know those coaches well and I know they're quality people who have taken a lot of pride in their programs and I aim to do that with the Cougars.
My experiences over the course of my career have taken me though several different environments and I eagerly await the challenges and opportunities ahead."
Kalafatis cultivated two programs prior to the development of OSU softball. She headed the staff at the California University of Pennsylvania, her alma mater, from 1989-93 and led the team to an impressive 175-53-1 record with Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference championships in each of the five seasons she was there. She was inducted to the California University of Pennsylvania Hall of Fame in 2001.
At Akron, she compiled a record of 98-63-1 after taking over the program in 1994. During her three years with the Zips, Kalafatis guided two Mid-American Conference Freshmen of the Year honorees and recruited the 1997 MAC Player of the Year.
"I can't wait to join this family," said Kalafatis. "From the program's amazing potential to the merits of The College and the athletic facilities as well as the splendor and uniqueness of the best city in the country – I was drawn to the program for the same reasons the student-athletes are. Success is achieved through quality student-athletes. It's all about the student-athletes; I'll keep it about the student-athletes and try to get the best out of them."
LINDA KALAFATIS' COACHING DOSSIER
1988-1993 (Five Seasons) – Head Coach, California University of Pennsylvania – 175-53-1 – Five Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference championships
1994-1996 (Three Seasons) – Head Coach, Akron – 98-63-1
1997-2012 (16 Seasons) – Head Coach, Ohio State – 538-358 – Six NCAA Tournament appearances, one NCAA Super Regional appearance
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING ABOUT COACH KALAFATIS
"You will find that she cares deeply about her student-athletes, plus she likes to win. It's a good combination. She works very hard at developing relationships with her students both on the field and off. She has a great ability to develop talent and help her student-athletes reach their true potential. She gets kids from all over the country and does a great job of mixing different cultures together and caring about all of them. That's why she was so successful at Ohio State and why she will be successful at the College of Charleston." – Jim Tressel, former football coach at Ohio State during Kalafatis' tenure
"I and the rest of her former players are very excited for Coach K. to join the College of Charleston. I'm a college coach now too I learned so many things from her. One of the things I respect most about her is that there was never a point in a game that she lost faith in us. Whether we were down by 10 runs or in a close game, you never got the impression that she wasn't behind us. She did that better than anyone. I have never been around a coach who has so much confidence in her players, no matter what. As a player, it made you relaxed and confident regardless of the situation you were in. I definitely try to reflect that into my own coaching. She cares about the players as people, and you can tell that by the relationships she still has with everyone she's been around, even after they leave the program. For me, she instilled a new love for Ohio State by her passion and I think she'll do that for the College of Charleston players. Even if they already have it, she has a way of taking it to levels they wouldn't know existed and really make them appreciate the opportunity and the environment. The program can go as far as she wants to take it; there is no ceiling. She brought a lot of firsts to Ohio State as a program and the room for success is limitless." –Sam Marder, the only Ohio State three-time All-American and former player under Kalafatis; currently plays professionally for the Akron Racers and coaches at Boise State
"I'm really happy that she has this opportunity and it's also a great opportunity for the College of Charleston. Her record is proven and I think she'll do a great job there. Her passion for the game is contagious and she has a way of getting the fullest potential out of her players. I am looking forward to watching her success at the College of Charleston." – Danielle Henderson, former assistant coach at Ohio State under Kalafatis; Olympic gold medalist for Team USA softball and Honda Sports Award winner for the best collegiate softball player in the country
"I've known her a really long time and I'm very excited to see what she achieves at the College of Charleston. She is a great coach and a proven winner and will undoubtedly lead the Cougars to conference championships and beyond!" – Julie Bias-Pratt, former player for Kalafatis at Akron and current Akron associate head coach