Columbia International University is excited to announce the addition of softball to the line of sports that are offered. The Rams first season will be during the 2018-2019 academic year and will play as a member of NCCAA DI.
"We are excited to add softball and expand the student experience here at CIU," CIU Athletic Director James Whitaker said. "Being able to add another spring sport was really a draw for us to add softball, but seeing how big softball is in the area only intrigued us more to make this move. Since the beginning CIU has looked at softball as part of the plans for athletics and being able to officially add it is exciting and a big step for us in using the game of softball to prepare the young women for whatever their future may hold."
The Rams found the leader of their program as they announced that Sara Allen has accepted the head coaching position. Allen comes to Columbia International after spending one year as the assistant coach at NCAA DII Montana State University Billings.
Allen has a deep pedigree in the world of softball as she was a NCAA DI student-athlete at the University of San Diego. After her playing career, she has spent all of her coaching time around highly competitive NCAA schools as she was a graduate assistant at Georgia Southern, assistant coach at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke, assistant at Weber State, and most recently the assistant at Montana State University Billings. She has also being involved with Triple Play Academy, where she provided individual training and was a youth coach.
During her playing career Allen, a catcher for the Toreros was a three time all-PCSC (Pacific Coast Softball Conference) honoree and a three time University of San Diego offensive player of the year. Throughout her time at the University of San Diego she started 182 games and had an outstanding .302 batting average with 12 homeruns, 12 triples, 33 doubles, 81 RBIs, and 79 runs scored. During her senior season, Allen racked up two awards as she was named the 2006 PCSC Scholar Athlete of the Year as well as being named a 2006 ESPN CoSIDA Academic All-American.
Softball has made such an impact in her life that Sara has given back by using softball on the missions field. Over the last 13 years she has traveled with an organization called Competitive Edge International that uses softball to spread the Gospel to unreached people groups. She has been a part of 14 trips, 8 competitive teams, 5 softball clinic teams, and 3 first responder teams with them. A majority of the trips have taken part in South and East Asia. Over her 13 years she has taken part in the trips as an athlete, leader, coach, assistant coach, and life coach. "In my experience, I've learned that sports are a universal language that is easy to build relationships through, even across the biggest language, culture, and political gaps," said Allen.
What intrigued you about CIU? I see coaching softball as my ministry, so initially I was looking for a university and athletics department built on Christian principles that would support me in leading a team from a faith-based perspective. When I looked deeper into CIU's mission and values, I felt that CIU was a unique faith community that I wanted to know more about. I also thought it would be a welcome change of pace to live in a warmer climate near a larger population base!
What are you most excited about coming to CIU? Other than never having to shovel snow out of my driveway again? I am excited to lay the foundation for a softball program that allows student athletes to grow in their sport, education and faith congruously. I have been blessed with some amazing experiences in sports ministry using softball to share the Gospel, and I am excited to bring those to the softball program at CIU. I don't believe we have to compromise excellence at sport to be excellent in our faith, so I am really looking forward to building this team up into a group of young women that embodies both.
What excites you about starting a completely new program? More than anything I'm excited for the young ladies who will be CIU's first softball team. The student athletes are the heart and soul of every athletics program and I can't wait to see who they are and what they will bring to this community. I'm also excited to start all the traditions and develop the culture that will characterize Rams Softball. Softball is growing like crazy around the country, so I am really looking forward to leading CIU into competition on the ball field!
Athletic Director James Whitaker had this say on what Sara brings to CIU and what intrigued him about bringing her on staff. "Sara brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise in softball and she has an extreme passion for coaching. She has an ability to connect, challenge, mentor, and minister to the girls coming in. Sara also, has experience in starting a new softball program which will help her connect and recruit at this level. Sara brings a wealth of sports ministry knowledge to the program and a passion to reach the unreached people groups and with that ministry aspect it will be fun to see what dimensions of that she brings to the program."