In late June, 2020 hit us with yet another curveball. Two weeks ago, it was announced that Longwood head softball coach Kathy Riley would be stepping down after 23 years at the helm. In the early 2000s, Riley helped guide the program into Division I after Longwood left the Division II Carolinas-Virginia Athletic Conference. Riley can now look back on a legacy that saw 812 career wins, five Big South Conference titles and seven trips to the NCAA tournament. The team finished with a winning record in every season under Riley and five of the last seven Big South titles have been won by Longwood.
Athletic Director Michelle Meadows spoke on the impact of Riley’s retirement. “Coach Riley left an indelible legacy on the Longwood softball program, our student-athletes, athletics staff and the University. Her presence, passion and leadership will be deeply missed in every corner of our department. She elevated Longwood in all that she pursued.” Riley retires as the winningest women’s varsity coach in the history of Longwood Athletics.
It was not just her record on the field that defined Riley’s legacy at Longwood, as Meadows would dive further into. “Coach Riley is an inspiration to everyone around her, including coaches, staff and the Longwood community. She has an insatiable passion for developing people and an incredible drive for excellence. She was always giving of her time, energy, knowledge or resources to mentor, encourage and pour into others and our program to build pride and community within Longwood.” Riley served as the keynote speaker at Longwood’s 2019 convocation ceremony.
It is safe to say that Riley is leaving behind some big shoes to fill, but the show must go on. Meadows commented on the search for the next head softball coach. “A national search is underway.” Meadows added that the athletic department will not comment on future candidates at this time.