Mesa hires Otero’s Garcia to be softball coach
Ben Garcia led the Otero Junior College softball team back to the top of its conference.
Now, he will look to keep Colorado Mesa University softball team competing for Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference titles.
“It is a great opportunity,” the 59-year-old Garcia said. “You never know when a position like this would become available.”
“In my opinion, there is no better place in the RMAC than Colorado Mesa. It was a no-brainer for me.”
Garcia coached Otero Junior College the past three seasons, posting a 143-42 record to go with two Region IX Championships in 2013 and 2014. The Rattlers also won a conference title in 2014. He has coached 22 all-region members players, 23 all-academic region players and one All-American pitcher.
Garcia won more than 400 games in 21 years as head coach at Pueblo East prior to coaching at Otero. He led the Eagles to 19 state tournament appearances, including the state title in 2012, and four runner-up appearances. He was selected the Colorado coach of the year in 2012.
“Ben Garcia is an accomplished professional known throughout the state for his integrity and softball knowledge,” CMU Athletic Director Tom Spicer said in a news release. “CMU is fortunate to be able to have Bennie join our staff, and we are looking forward to developing CMU softball.”
Garcia took over the Otero program the following spring and took a once traditionally strong program that had stumbled to mediocrity and returned it to one competing for conference and region titles.
“I believe the players were in place, they just needed more structure,” Garcia said. “We had to get the kids to believe in what we’re doing. Athletes are a dime a dozen. They needed to enjoy playing softball.”
Several of Garcia’s players at Otero went on to play at programs throughout the RMAC.
Garcia takes over a Colorado Mesa program that returns all but three players from a team that won the RMAC regular-season title.
He won’t have RMAC pitcher of the year Jessica Severinsen, pitcher Ashley Pulido or outfielder Lindsay Drayer, who graduated.
Severinsen and Pulido combined to start 37 of the team’s 48 games, pitching 258 of the team’s 305 innings last year.
“It’s tough when you lose your pitchers,” Garcia said. “That will be a big hole for us to fill, but the nucleus is back. You’re not going to shut anybody down in the RMAC. All I ask of the pitchers is to keep us in the game.”
Garcia not only brings more than 24 years of coaching experience, he played baseball at then Southern Colorado and played fastpitch softball for close to 30 years.
He will be assisted by Mercedes Lovato, who was an assistant for former coach Candace Abrams.
Abrams resigned after the 2014 season. She was 55-38-1 in two years.
Colorado Mesa women’s soccer head coach Jason Clare hired former University of South Carolina student-athlete Kortney Rhoades as his assistant coach.
Rhoades most recently served as an assistant coach at the Padua Academy (Delaware), leading the team to the state championship in 2013. She was a graduate assistant coach at South Carolina after finishing her playing career in 2012.
“I am extremely happy to have Kortney join the women’s soccer program at Colorado Mesa University,” Clare said in a news release. “She has great enthusiasm for the game and is very dedicated to achieve the objectives we want to accomplish for CMU women’s soccer both on and off the pitch. Her passion for the game is clear and when you combine that with her energy, knowledge of soccer and her experiences playing and coaching at the University of South Carolina, it creates a great mix.”
Rhoades played in 60 games, starting 46 for the Gamecocks. She scored 10 goals and six assists during her three years in Columbia. She played one year at St. Joseph’s (Pennsylvania).
The Mavericks open the 2014 season against Texas Woman’s University on Sept. 4 in Durango.