Ihlenburg named GGC's first softball coach

With the first pitch set for spring 2013, Georgia Gwinnett College tapped Kat Ihlenburg as the woman to build Grizzly softball and lead the program into the future.

With the first pitch set for spring 2013, Georgia Gwinnett College tapped Kat Ihlenburg as the woman to build Grizzly softball and lead the program into the future.

“Kat has been a top assistant at the College of Charleston and led their program to great success in recent years,” said GGC Director of Athletics Darin Wilson. “The most impressive thing about her is that she knows exactly how to build this program from a community standpoint, an academic standpoint, and how to help us compete nationally.”

As a player, Ihlenburg caught and played outfield for Barry University in Miami Shores, Fla. She helped guide the Buccaneers to the 2002 Division II College World Series. She graduated from Barry in 2004 with a bachelor of arts in public relations.

Ihlenburg brings eight years of collegiate softball coaching experience to GGC, spending 2004-2005 at Reinhardt College in Waleska, Ga., and the past seven years at the College of Charleston as an assistant to Head Coach Shelly Hoerner, for whom she played at Barry.

“To start a program from the ground up is a unique experience,” said Ihlenburg shortly after accepting the position at Georgia Gwinnett. “Coach Hoerner was an excellent mentor, and I look forward to taking the lessons I learned from her and putting my own twist on them.”

At the forefront of Ihlenburg’s ideal program at GGC will be an emphasis on creating what she described as a “family first” atmosphere.

“We’re going to bring in players who understand that we want to win, but who also see that there is something great about being part of a team that operates as a family.”

Her priorities as the Grizzlies’ coach involve doing a judicious job of recruiting the right talent to fill out a roster for the 2012-2013 season – whether it be students already on campus, current high school seniors or transfer students.

“I’ve had an overwhelming amount of support from my softball contacts in the North Georgia community, and I’m ready to hit the ground running,” she said.

Georgia Gwinnett College has applied to become a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). The Grizzlies softball team will complete their first recruiting class in the coming months, begin workouts in the fall and begin playing games in the spring of 2013.

“National championships are in our future,” Ihlenburg said emphatically. “That is the bar that has been set by the administration at GGC, and I wouldn’t want it any other way. I expect to be a team to be reckoned with regionally in the NAIA within four years and a program with a national profile of success within eight years.”

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