Softball team welcomes new assistant coach

Jordann Lopata, SPORTS EDITOR

New softball assistant coach, Anna Kirk, comes from a long line of experience. First, finishing a college career at Ohio State University in 2017, she always knew she had a passion for the sport and for coaching.

“I’m a female in a sport, but I am also a loving female, and somebody that you can count on, to say ‘hey it’s doable, you can do it,’” Kirk said. I always knew I wanted to be a coach.” 

At Ohio State, Kirk was a sports industry major with a minor in human development and family sciences. On the field, she was the starting third baseman and eventually a volunteer assistant coach. 

Before starting her freshman year at OSU, Kirk tore her ACL and meniscus her senior year of high school during basketball season and questioned whether or not she would be able to play softball again. She made the decision to play, after talking to her college coaches and input from her family. Kirk talked about how this experience made her feel more relatable to her players that she coaches now. 

“I was in that situation where I didn’t even know if I was going to play softball and that’s where my heart lied. It’s a blessing in disguise,” Kirk said. It made me a more positive person, to find the bright side of every situation, I can relate to my athletes a little more.” 

Last year, Kirk was an assistant coach at D3 Muskingum University and she talked about the differences between coaching at other levels.

“Going from Ohio State to D3 program was really weird, because I didn’t have the scholarships to worry about. To be back working with scholarships is really enjoyable in my aspect to say, ‘hey here you go, here’s what we can have for you,” Kirk said. 

The competitive nature of being at a D2 school is what Kirk talked about. She is a very competitive person, and she has always been that way. The decision for her to come to Ashland was easy, she wants to win and be a part of the family that she knows exists here. 

“I always hear great things about D2’s, because the nature of the field, it’s competitive all around, you don’t have the stack houses like the SEC and the PAC. It’s nice to know when you go to a D2 school you can have a real chance of winning what you set out to win. I enjoy that much more.” 

Kirk knows that Ashland’s goal is to win. The goal is to be competitive and dominate in the conference. She knew when Coach Knerem was looking for someone to fill the position that she wanted to be here at AU. 

“Ashland has always been on my radar, it’s always been a spot in my heart. I am thankful Coach K said ‘yes, please come.’ Ashland is a good spot to be.” 

During her senior year at Ohio State, Kirk was named to the Big Ten all defensive team. Kirk loved the competitive nature, and she compares that to the reputation that the softball team at AU has for her. “Ashland has a good feel to it, it’s not big but it’s not small. The reputation that exists here I wanted to be a part of it,” Kirk said. 

Her time spent at Ohio State was well worth it being from Columbus and getting that chance to play and experience the environment that the school has. 

“I was born and raised in Columbus, so I’m a Buckeye at heart, to be able to put on that Scarlet and gray, and play and then to be able to coach, it’s amazing,” Kirk said. 

Kirk appreciates the fact that AU has a Christian based background. Her ability to coach and be connected through faith is something that is important to her and her family. 

With her busy schedule recruiting, and taking care of the offense, Kirk makes it a priority to keep up with her family. 

“We have Sunday dinner almost every Sunday, between my parents, my sister and her husband, their two kids, and then me and my fiance, we somehow make it work.”

“Whether it be at like 1 o’clock on a Sunday or 6 o’clock on a Sunday. Family is important to all of us.”

Kirk wants to build relationships here and be that person that not only her softball players can go to, but for anyone. 

She reflected on times that were challenging for her as a coach, but the main goal was to always be someone that her players could count on and go to for anything that they needed. 

“To be able to be a rock for these girls, and make sure they know that it is doable. Yes times are going to be hard but we have shoulders for a reason, stack em’ on top and let’s go,” Kirk said.

Kirk is devoted to this team, and has been ready to work at AU for a long time coming. 

“I know the coach makes the team feel like a family, which is enjoyable.”