Name it, she’s done it.
From coaching volleyball for 10 years to being at the helm of the softball team for 26 years to building the women’s golf program from the ground up, Kathy DeYoung has accomplished it all as part of a rich UC Davis athletic tradition.
“Her accomplishments stand out in terms of developing sports,” athletic director Greg Warzecka said. “She is such a great teacher. Her career shows that with success in three different sports. Few have been able to do that.”
But after 30 years, one of the great Aggie coaches to step onto the court, the field, or the course for that matter, will be retiring, bringing to a close one legendary UC Davis coaching career.
DeYoung was first a head coach at Temple University in 1976, leading the women’s volleyball team to a 57-8 record in two years.
But in 1978, the Northern California native and Fresno State graduate decided to move back to the area to coach at UC Davis.
“It’s a great place to be,” DeYoung said, “and the town of Davis is great – just everything about it. And I grew up Northern California.”
DeYoung began her Aggie coaching career at the helm of the women’s volleyball program. She led the Aggies three times to fifth-place NCAA finishes, twice advanced to the AIAW national semifinals and finished with a career record of 168-97.
Simultaneously, DeYoung coached the softball team, which she continued for 26 years. She took the team to 13 NCAA postseason berths, four third-place finishes at the NCAA Championships and also captured a coveted national title in 2003.
DeYoung also claimed many individual coaching honors as the head of the softball program. She was named national Coach of the Year in 2003 and received three regional Coach of the Year recognitions along with five conference Coach of the Year awards.
But after all of the accomplishments, DeYoung hadn’t had enough. So she decided that she would take a break from softball and begin a women’s golf program – from scratch.
“I was a team-sport person my whole life,” DeYoung said. “I took up golf later in life and just fell in love with it. It’s an incredible sport, so I had the passion for it. I always felt [UC Davis] should have a women’s golf program. To have the opportunity to build a program in a sport you love from scratch is a wonderful opportunity, so I just felt very fortunate.”
But just coaching wasn’t enough. DeYoung wanted to feel the same success in golf as she did in volleyball and softball. Heading into the inaugural year as the women’s golf coach, DeYoung had three goals.
“I wanted the stroke average of the players to improve, get into the 50s in national rankings and make the NCAA post season in either our third or fourth year,” she said.
UC Davis improved its 2006 four-player team stroke average from 308 to 301.7 in 2008, is currently ranked No. 52 by Golfweek and will open play today at the NCAA West Regional Championships in Lincoln Hills, Calif.
DeYoung has no doubt been a significant part of the UC Davis athletics program as she has put in countless hours for the program.
“[Coaching at UC Davis] has been a huge part of my life,” DeYoung said. “I have been here for 30 years and have been here for 30 years for a good reason. This is a great place to work. The student athletes are very special. It’s a place where academics come first, so it fit my philosophy. But you have a high level of drive and motivation to do well in athletics as well. So the slogan ‘Excellence in academics and athletics’ fits Davis so well and that fit with my own philosophy.”
DeYoung is modest however, and doesn’t know her legacy will be. But Warzecka has an idea.
“She is highly organized and has built great relationships with her players and got a lot of out them,” Warzecka said. “She has a commitment to excellence.”
And now, looking back on three decades of work, DeYoung can’t figure out where the time has gone.
“I just can’t believe it’s been 30 years, you know?” DeYoung said. “I have wonderful memories here. Now I will be able to go out and start watching some games in different sports that I didn’t have time to do and stay part of the Aggie family. I don’t think it has really hit me yet.”
MAX ROSENBLUM can be reached at email@example.com. XXX