Jul 29, 2015

Rewriting History

A Winning Tradition

 
  • Two NCAA Regional Tournament Appearances (2016, 2018)
  • Five Northwest Conference Tournament Appearances (2012, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018)
  • Six NFCA All-West Region Athletes (One first-team, three second-team, two third-team) 
  • 4 Northwest Conference Coaches of the Year
  • 1 (NFCA) Division III National Pitcher of the Week (Abbie Bergerson, 2015)
  • Two National Top-25 Rankings (2016, 2018)
  • One NAIA Regional Tournament (1994)
  • One NAIA District Championship (1994)
  • One Cascade Conference Championship (1994)
  • 1 NAIA District Coach of the Year
 

NEWBERG, Ore. -- In a span of seven years, Head Coach Jessica Hollen has rewritten the record books and transformed the George Fox softball team into a history-making machine.

"Our vision hasn't changed since I started back in 2009," Hollen said. "We want to be champions in the classroom, on the field and in life."

It's that same vision that guided the 2015 Bruins to a 31-13 (.705) overall record, a Northwest Conference Tournament runner-up finish and seven All-NWC honors. What's even more impressive is they did it all without a single senior on the roster and two freshmen in the circle.

"Last year was the beginning of the rewarding phase as a coach," Hollen said. "When I first got here I wanted to get buy-in from our athletes and start to build a program that would represent George Fox on the field. The 2015 season was amazing. The fact we re-broke the program best for wins set in 2014 is incredible. That was the first time that we had everyone on the same page with the same vision and same goals. It makes my job easier when I have a group of players who get along with each other and can have fun during the season. We were able to be loose, but focused. Not too many teams know how to portray both of those characteristics."

To truly understand how far this softball team has come, consider the history of the program. Before the 2014 team set the program mark for wins, it was the 1994 team that held the record at 21-8. Since 1994, there have been just three winning seasons before Hollen took the helm. There has never been back-to-back winning seasons – until Hollen and company achieved that feat the last two years.

"Before I got here the program wasn't super great, and I have worked really hard to get the program to this place," explained Hollen. "Our goal is always to bring in an athlete who first wants an education and second wants to compete on the field. We have tremendous leadership on this team, and that plays a huge factor in getting to where we are. This conference is one of the toughest in Division III, and it's pretty cool that we can say we finished second last year in the conference tournament. We are still trying to figure out who we are, but I believe that we can be one of the best softball programs in the nation."

It's that attitude that has guided Hollen to achieve two Northwest Conference Coach of the Year awards (2012, 2015). She collected her 100th career victory on March 1, 2015, over Puget Sound in a 16-7 five-inning game. In her seven seasons she has an overall record of 123-160 (.435).

She contributes her success to the type of players she recruits.

"We are always looking for players who truly love the sport of softball," Hollen said. "They have to be obviously athletic, want to excel in the classroom and most importantly love the sport of softball."

It's all about a mindset for Coach Hollen. "I want a player who can be mentally tough and love the grind of practicing day in and day out."

It's that type of attitude that her team feeds on. The hunger to get better. The ambition to be the best in the classroom and on the field. Her usual question to her players is always the same: "What are you doing to get better?"

This last season is one that she will remember for a long time. "It was just special," mentioned Hollen. "We were a very young team, but we knew that we could play with anyone."

It's that team that has rewritten the softball record book. In fact, under her tutelage, last year's team alone is mentioned 77 times in that book. Remarkably, every player will be returning for the 2016 season.

"Who knows what next year holds," Hollen said. "I do know this, though, we are hungry for more."

 

Below is a list of the core beliefs Coach Hollen teaches her players.

Blue Collar= A person who is dependable, self-initiated and gives their best effort always.
Committed= A person who is dedicated to saying what they will do regardless of the circumstances.
Accountable= A person who takes responsibility over their actions.
Selfless= A person who is willing to put the team before themselves.
Passionate= A person who has an internal desire to achieve and is enthusiastic about what they do.
Focused= A person who is able to concentrate on a primary purpose.
Resilient= A person who remains focused even when faced with adversity.
Belief= A person who is confident and believes their ability in the process will lead to success.
Faith= A person who trusts that they have a purpose and understands that they are a part of something larger than themselves.