Tairia Flowers recalls walking up to the batter’s box wearing UCLA blue and gold for the first time in her collegiate career. Flowers prepared for the Maryland Terrapin’s first pitch, she swung, and connected. It went high in the air, traveling until it cleared the walls of the stadium in Tampa, Fla.
Flowers laughs as she remembers that it’s not she who should get the credit for the three-run shot.
“That one is a credit to one of my teammates, Marin Noack,” Flowers said. “She called the pitch. She picked the pitcher and it was a changeup and she called it, so I knew it was coming and I ended up connecting pretty well.”
Flowers, whose maiden name was Mims, began her UCLA stay with a bomb that so fittingly describes her career. It was a start that could not have gone any better for the former first baseman.
With four trips to the College World Series, including the 2003 National Championship, Olympic gold and silver medals, and several U.S. National team appearances under her belt, Flowers now has a new challenge to conquer as the recently hired CSUN softball head coach.
In her first head-coaching position at any level, Flowers has the task of leading a team that was the 2010 co-Big West Conference regular season champions.
Flowers’ road to CSUN wasn’t in the plans, as her playing days were still a priority up until about two years ago.
“Until I really got into coaching, I didn’t really know I wanted to be a head coach,” Flowers said. “I knew I loved the game and once I graduated from college I didn’t really plan on playing past college.”
She said that a combination of coaching softball clinics, personal lessons and being involved as an assistant coach at the college level really made her look toward becoming a head coach.
Flowers’ arrival at CSUN didn’t include stops at several schools before landing the top job. She still played while serving as an assistant coach at Big West Conference rival UC Riverside for one season.
Flowers then moved to another Big West rival and softball powerhouse for the 2007 season, Long Beach State. She cites her move to Long Beach as a necessary one due to her U.S. National Team commitments.
She served as an assistant coach for several seasons at LBSU until getting the position at CSUN in July.
Flowers assures she will not try to change anything the team already has, as she plans to build on it.
“Our goal isn’t to come in and clean up, clean shop, and, you know, change everybody,” Flowers said. “I mean, we understand they’ve had success. To start off 1-9 last year and then figure it out and become co-Big West champs, they’re doing something right.”
Flowers is starting to gain the trust of the athletes, who appear to like what the new coach brings to the table.
“It’s good having someone with that much experience,” senior third baseman Tracy Allen said. “Northridge is a great softball team, but we haven’t had someone with that much experience come in and teach us things that they know, so I think it’s going to be really good for our team.”
Flowers plans on making CSUN a consistent winner by building on the success that the team already has.
“Our goal is to, hopefully, in the next couple years get a Big West title, go to the postseason and then each year get better and better,” Flowers said. “Get one game further and further and hopefully we’ll be at the World Series in no time at all.”