Vicki Mengel, a softball coach in Maryland, is quickly rising through the ranks in collegiate coaching. In five short years, Mengel has moved up from coaching at Havre de Grace High School to last year helping form and be the head softball coach for Cecil College. Now, Mengel earned her first Division 1 assignment as a volunteer assistant softball coach at Delaware State University.
With one foot in the door, Mengel hopes that after she completes her Bachelor of Sports Science degree in sports coaching from the United States Sports Academy, she will be able to secure a Division 1 head coach position.
“The instruction from the Academy is excellent and my instructors are beyond knowledgeable and force me to think outside the box,” Mengel said. “They also support me at the same time and that is very cool. I know they are preparing me to be the best coach I can be.
“I am really big into the mental aspect of the game, learning about imaging has been really helpful and the classes have been great.”
Advancing from being the head coach at a junior college to a Division 1 assistant coach will come with a different set of responsibilities.
“At Cecil College I was in charge of everything from study hall to practice, and all of the other planning,” Mengel said. “I’m sure I will have some of the same responsibilities here but this team will have a larger coaching staff so we will have specialized tasks that we are in charge of and then form together to collaborate. Division 1 is big and I am looking forward to coaching athletes that are very determined and are in the process of trying to achieve greatness. I am really excited about being able to push them to that level and help create a winning program there.”
Mengel encourages other coaches looking for a break to be positive in their approach to everything they do.
“There are going to be bad days,” Mengel said. “In sport in general it is so hard to be perfect, everyone makes mistakes, everyone makes errors, and you have to be able to be okay with that and know that you just have to work harder the next day and stay positive.”
Mengel knows that there is much more to coaching than winning and losing.
“Coaching is about teaching how to effectively problem solve and strategize along the way and the skills necessary to be successful in life,” Mengel said. “Showing [student athletes] that character, grit, determination, and the way we work on the field carries off the field.
“In sport, we are able to adapt and change and do things differently quickly and it helps us all through life when things don’t go your way. We are teaching kids these different things and someday the lightbulb will go off and they will be able to survive it”.