SIUE softball coach officially has grand time
Sandy Montgomery clearly never gets tired of winning.
The Southern Illinois University Edwardsville head softball coach notched her 1,000th win when the Cougars beat Holy Cross in March. The accomplishment is part of a list that includes Ohio Valley Conference regular season crowns, multiple championship games, a Division II title, 12 NCAA tournament appearances and coach of the year honors.
"It's kind of surreal, quite frankly," Montgomery told the Carbondale Reporter. "You think back through your career, and when you started, that's something that you would never even fathom, getting to 1,000 wins. It's an accumulation of so many great players and so many great coaching staffs and a lot of support and assistance from administration. Our athletic director Dr. Hewitt has done a great job of leading us to where we are now at the Division I level. I just couldn't be more proud of our program and especially of the culture that we have. We have a winning tradition."
Montgomery, who started coaching at age 23 and has been SIUE's head coach for 29 years, gives most of the credit for her achievements to others.
"You don't get to 1,000 wins by yourself," she said. "I'll be the first person to tell everyone that. I just happen to be the head coach, and it gets tagged to my name, but it's a program milestone, and I'm just very proud of what we built here. I've been very fortunate to win a lot of games in a short amount of time. We've had a lot of great teams."
Montgomery sees herself coaching for the foreseeable future -- as long as she gets joy out of the competition and teaching.
"Winning is something that you can never get enough of if you're a competitor, and I definitely dislike losing more than I like winning," she said. "That motivates me quite a bit. But I really enjoy the kids. If you surround yourself with good people and good-character kids, they're fun to be around, they're fun to coach, and you learn something every day from them as well as hoping they learn something from you. I think that coaching is also educating, and I try to build our program around a lot of life lessons and not only developing them as players but also as people."
As the team moves through another strong season -- the Cougars were 35-10 at press time -- Montgomery continues to reiterate that she owes a great deal of her personal success to the support of others in the program.
"I want to thank everyone that's been involved with our program," she said. "I'm a firm believer in that you're only as good as the people you're around, and I've been very fortunate to be around a lot of great people."