Heather Tarr Press Conference Quotes

July 6, 2004

Ken Winstead, Associate Athletic Director and chair of the softball coach search committee:

Ken Winstead
On announcing Heather Tarr's hiring: On behalf of Dick Thompson, our acting athletic director, we conducted a national search to hire a new softball coach. We looked for the best fit for the long-term well being of our softball program. We looked for the person also who wanted the job in the worst possible way, someone who had to have the job. I think you'll find that we found the right person. We received many phone calls from around the country, unsolicited, from rival coaches, rival players, and ex-Husky players saying, 'You have to talk to Heather Tarr, you just have to.' So we brought Heather Tarr in. Between Dick Thompson, myself, and the search committee, after meeting with Heather Tarr and the other candidates, we just knew we had to hire Heather Tarr. So we found the person that we think is the best fit for the long term well-being of University of Washington softball, and we also hired the person who just had to have the job in the worst possible way: Ex-Husky Heather Tarr.

Heather Tarr
On being named head coach:
This is obviously something that I never really thought would happen. When everything went down in December, I had mixed emotions, as I'm sure the current team did as well. But this is going to be a new mission for me personally, as far as my career goes, and I am so excited to be able to take on this as a challenge. Personally, professionally, my family lives here; my fianc� and his family live here, so this is just a tremendous opportunity to take this team to where it has been in the past. I just really want this team to eventually win a national championship, because I personally didn't win one when I was here playing. I know that we can do it with who we have on the team this year, and with who we're going to recruit to bring in to this university in the future.

Tarr
On the University of the Pacific:
Where I was before, the University of the Pacific, is a small Division I school. Many of its sports compete at a pretty decent level. But as far as softball goes, it's right up there with many of the big universities. So for the past six years I've been able to help lead a team that otherwise wouldn't really be a national contender and do some pretty great things at the University of the Pacific. So I want to say thank you for the opportunity that that University provided me to develop as a coach, as a person, and even as a student, because I got my masters at that university as well. So I'd like to thank Brian Kolze, who I worked with for the past six years. I just appreciate the opportunity that university provided me to develop.

Tarr
On reshaping the program:
As far as wiping the slate clean, I don't really take that approach to what I'm going to do. I know we have a great foundation here. I've talked with almost all of the players and the incoming players as far as my appointment here. I haven't really talked about the direction that I'm going to take, but I'm going to meet with them after we all meet here. I don't really consider this opportunity to be something where I want to wipe the slate clean, I want to build on what is already here. I want to build on what has been started, and I also want to use what I know I can be successful with to bring this team and this program to where we want to be nationally and within the community.

Tarr
On the status of the hiring process for assistant coaches:
I've had some conversations with people that I know in the softball community. Nothing's set in stone yet but I do have ideas of who I want to hire.

Tarr
On whether she's spoken with Theresa Wilson:
I have talked to her, and we've had some conversations in the past. For me the biggest thing is that Coach Wilson was a big part of me coming to the University of Washington. In addition she was a big part of me getting into coaching, and she's helped me develop as a coach throughout the years. So I have spoken with her about this opportunity and she was more than encouraging. I had her blessing in going for the program that she built here. I'm going to add something to that. Originally I was a walk-on to this program. It wasn't a guarantee that I was going to come in here and be a starter, or be an impact player, or necessarily even play a significant role. So with what I did and with the opportunity that Coach Wilson and her staff provided me as a player, she played a big role in my success in becoming a full-time starter and an impact player.

Tarr
On response to problems at UW:
'It was just a shock, as far as when the news came out and the timing of it was more of a shock than anything. I know some of the players currently on the team and I just felt sorry for what had happened to our program. There's so much passion involved with being a player as a Husky and I know that's something that we all share. Coach Wilson and her staff communicated to them and to us as players to be passionate about what we do and I was just really sad about the direction the program was going to take without that leadership.'

Winstead
On if Dr. Scheyer was addressed in the interview process:
'We knew what years she played here and we asked about Dr. Scheyer and her answer was she was never treated by Dr. Scheyer.'

Tarr
On the current recruiting process:
'Being already at a top-25 school, we're already going to the tournaments that the top players are at. Now, at Pacific, we attempt to get the best of the best. Are we going to always get them and be able to compete for those best players? No. But, we sure as heck are going to try and get those best players. So I already knew potentially who we were going to have to replace here and who I was going to approach come July 1st. Well I didn't obviously get hired by July 1st but when I got word that this was a go, I was on the phone as soon as I could with all the recruits that I had a plan for coming in here. So was I in line at the biggest tournament this weekend behind all the big schools waiting to talk to players? No, but I'm not going to use it as a crutch and I don't see it as something that's going to hold this program back because I know that the players here right now want the best players in the program and they're going to help me get those players here. I know who we want and we're going to do our best to attract them to this school.'

Tarr
On when she found out she would be hired:
'Friday night. I didn't know exactly when it was going to happen. Obviously I've been waiting for an answer and so has the team. I was sitting in my office at Pacific finishing off some last highlight videos for that school and I thought, 'Okay, everybody's gone home. It's a long weekend. It's over with, they're probably going to tell me Monday.' Sure enough, a quarter for five o'clock somebody called me.'

Tarr
On whether Steve Daley and Scott Centala would be considered for assistant positions:
'To be honest, no, they're not. I'm not saying they haven't been friends to me, advisors to me in the past. Scott Centala actually coached me my senior year so he was a coach to me in my playing years. Steve Daley, I know him just through working as a college coach with him. But they're not part of who I would like to bring on here. I need people who are going to complement what I do. But I totally think the job they did this year given the circumstances was tremendous. The players rallied, they battled. As few bodies as they had at the end of the year, Scott and Steve did a great job keeping them focused and I just want to commend them for the job that they did for the past six months. But no, they're not on my mind.'

Tarr
On similarities between her and former Head Coach Teresa Wilson:
'Style-wise, I think my expectation level for level of play is similar. For what I expect as far as execution, conduct, just personal conduct, those are similarities that I have. Academic goals, I think those are important as when Theresa coached us, so academically I'm going to hold the student-athletes to the same standard there. But my approach is different. I'm more of a 'player's coach' if you will. I like to establish a good rapport with a player. I like them to buy in to what I personally am about. That's my style. I'm a teacher, I love to teach the game. I feel like I have been coached by the best, I've played at the highest level, and I've also been able to practice what I know and what I want to do at Pacific, so I'm kind of bringing the best of what I know and what I was molded by. That's kind of my style, more of an eclectic type.'

Tarr
On her practice style:
'I'm efficient. I feel like I have a good grasp on what the players are feeling, how they are this day or within this time frame. I feel like my way of going about things is with the player's best interest. And sometimes we might need to practice for a long time and I hope that they would like to practice for a long time if we're not getting something or if they want to work at it. So I'm not opposed to that but that's not generally my style.'

Tarr
On the hiring process:
'Originally I applied for the job. And I didn't really know where the status of the hire was and going into regionals we were travelling to Stanford to regionals and I was just thinking I haven't heard anything, I know the hiring process is pretty far along, don't know what the status is. So I inquired about the hiring process and I got myself somehow, someway involved in the interview process.'

Tarr
On if she thought she would get the job:
'Personally, I had ups and downs with it. At first I thought I had a great chance, given my status with the school, my relationship with some of the people that are here. I didn't really know what their approach was going to be but in my mind I really thought that I could do it. I know what I want and I know what the players can do here and I know who we can attract to come to this university so I always believed that I could do it but I didn't know what the approach of the search committee was going to be. I didn't know obviously who the athletic director was going to be and who was going to make the hire. So those were unknowns. At times I doubted what their intentions were going to be. Were they going to go with the proven national championship coach or were they going to be able to see beyond that and see the potential?'

Winstead
On Heather Tarr's experience:
'Some of those national championship caliber coaches called and it was very telling. The one thing they all shared was that Heather Tarr may not be a current head coach but she's every bit as ready to take over your program as they were at the program they're in charge of now. Whether it's John Rittman at Stanford who was a longtime assistant coach here. There were several coaches who said that when they played Pacific, they hated playing Pacific because of her personality. They gave them fits on the basepaths, whether slapping or hit-and-run and after the game they would just sit and say, 'We're not playing that team anymore.' It's a lot because of her attitude and her influence on that team. The other thing is one of the legends of college softball, Rita Hines, who's retired from the University of Oklahoma and runs the College World Series every year. She said, 'Don't go out there and beg people to come to your program. You're the University of Washington. You've been in seven of the past nine College World Series. You find the one who wants to be there in the worst possible way.' And it was Heather Tarr. So several coaches, several ex-players including some members on the Olympic team just talked about what a great teacher she was and not only was she a great recruiter but when the freshmen came in here she was going to make them better.'

Tarr
On how she convinced UW to hire her:
'I don't know if I convinced them or persuaded them. I just wanted my personality and my coaching style to be explained and understood for what it is and what it can be. I just kind of put out there what I'm about. I didn't try to really sell myself. I just wanted an opportunity to be seen as a parallel to coaches that may have a lot more head coaching experience to myself. So more of my passion for the program, my teaching style, my connection to this university having been a graduate, those are thins I wanted to convey.'

Tarr
On how she compares with other national coaches:
'I just feel like I'm more of the new school. I've been able to be taught by people who didn't necessarily play when the game was at its highest level. Let's say Teresa Wilson, she played in the '80s when the game was still growing. I played when we had a yellow ball and when the pitching distance was 43 feet. I played for a national championship, I played at the World Series, I coached at the World Series, and now I'm able to bring what I know being coached by those top-level coaches that maybe didn't play at that level. But I know what it's like to be a student-athlete at that level and I know the expectation level that needs to be set and I know how to hold people to that level. But also I know how to teach the game. There's coaches now in the top-25 that just rest on the fact that they're going to get recruits in there. Even though this is a place you can sell and you can get good recruits in, I'm not going to sit with that. I'm going to teach the game and make sure people get better. So that's where I'm at compared to the other coaches out there.'

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