Tina Deese didn’t want to pack up her family and move in search of another collegiate softball job.
So the former Auburn University head coach, who was fired earlier this spring after 17 seasons leading the Tigers, decided to stay in the community in which she raised her family and teach and coach on the high school level.
Deese, who has 848 victories in 25 years of college softball, will teach six P.E. classes and help as an assistant volleyball and softball coach at Beauregard High School this upcoming school year.
“I have raised my family here in Auburn,” Deese said. “My son (Kyler, a redshirt freshman on the baseball team) is currently at Auburn University, and my little girl (Jessi) is starting high school at Auburn High, and I just didn’t know if it was going to be fair for me to pick up my family and take them somewhere else and start again.”
Tuesday the Lee County Board of Education approved Deese’s hiring.
“We’re excited about the fact we were able to hire her here,” Beauregard principal Richard Brown said. “We are very fortunate to have her. She still has a lot of energy. She has a lot of desire to still work with kids. We are very fortunate.
“The community is tickled to death to have her here.”
Deese said she’s excited for the opportunity as well, realizing that teaching and coaching high school after more than two decades in college presents unique challenges.
“After doing something for as long as I have, because even beyond my Auburn years, I spent eight years of doing nothing but coaching softball, that’s all I’ve known,” said Deese, who also started the softball program at Huntingdon College in Montgomery in 1988, prior to her starting the program at Auburn in 1995. “So the challenges are big, but I’m looking forward to giving back to the community.
“And I’m looking forward to hopefully passing on what I know about my sport, what I know about physical education, onto Beauregard High School.”
Deese led Auburn to a 562-458-1 overall mark and a 212-272 record in the SEC in her 17 years as the school’s only head softball coach. Deese also led Auburn to nine NCAA Regional appearances. In her eight seasons at Huntingdon, Deese went 286-123, earning seven straight winning seasons and third-place finishes in the NAIA in 1992 and 1994.
Beauregard head softball and volleyball coach Brandon Cobb said he can’t wait to work with Deese.
“She brings so much experience to the table,” said Cobb, who led the Hornets to a Class 4A-Area 5 softball championship and a berth in the regional tournament this past year. “I’m excited about it.”
Cobb was removed from his post as the Beauregard softball coach in late May of 2012 by former Lee County Board of Education Superintendent Dr. Stephen Nowlin because Nowlin wanted a female to coach the softball team. Cobb, however, was reinstated June 1 of last year and just finished his fifth season with the Hornets.
Cobb is confident that Deese’s presence on the field will be nothing but a good thing.
“Her overall experience will help us out a lot, and I’ll be able to learn a lot from her,” he said. “I think it’ll be a good working relationship.”
Deese also coached volleyball while at Huntingdon, but said she’s going to need to brush up on the game after being away from it for so long.
“As much as the softball game has changed over those 17 years, I’m sure the volleyball game has changed in big ways, too,” she said. “So there’s a lot for me to learn.”
With those challenges, however, the benefits of her being able to remain in the area and spend more time with her family makes it all worth it.
“I’m hoping to make up for lost time, is what I’m hoping,” Deese said. “My little girl is 15 and she’s got some pivotal years ahead of her, so I’m looking forward to being there for her. And I’m looking forward to watching my son play.”
UPDATED (4:22 p.m.) with comments from Beauregard head softball and volleyball coach Brandon Cobb.
Mike Szvetitz is the Sports Editor for the Opelika-Auburn News.
Follow him on Twitter @SZVETITZ