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Amanda Lorenz Steps Up Big For Gators In New Role

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(Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

It took Amanda Lorenz being a “big moment player,” as Florida head coach Tim Walton describes her, to help lead a top 10 program throughout her four seasons as a collegiate athlete.

When the SEC announced its cancellation of all athletic competition for the 2019-2020 season in response to the worldwide COVID-19 outbreak, Lorenz became a “big moment” coach. It was time to break down the batting cages and build up an emotional support system that 22 student-athletes could rely on.

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The role of student assistant coach for the Gators' softball program has a few responsibilities: setting up practice, feeding machines, picking up balls and input on offensive and defensive strategies. That's a little different from the 6 a.m. weight room sessions Lorenz was used to. Even so, she was prepared for it.

“She’s got the ‘it’ factor, she knows how to work and she’s not afraid to put time into it,” Walton said. “She gets what she puts into a program.”

There was no question that the sport management graduate student was more than qualified for the job. Initially, Lorenz returned to Florida as a graduate manager. When NCAA rules allowed her to serve in a larger role, she seized the opportunity.

But Coach Lorenz was still the same valuable friend her former teammates knew in previous years; just in a new light. For newcomers, Lorenz had a unique impact of her own, especially on freshman Julia Cottrill, who got more playing time than any other Florida first-year player in the shortened 2020 season.

Lorenz saw her younger self in Cottrill and could immediately relate. She’d find Cottrill in a familiar scene: on the verge of tears from the pressure of being her own biggest critic. When Lorenz took notice, she knew the solution was much bigger than fixing the freshman’s swing.

“It was really just helping her cope with her expectations,” Lorenz said.

When Cottrill hit a home run in a fall exhibition game, the freshman ran into Lorenz’s arms for a “big, big hug.”

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If walls could talk, Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium would have a lot to say about Lorenz.

The four-time All-American holds Florida all-time records in four categories: batting average, on base percentage, doubles (tied) and walks.

A storied collegiate career like Lorenz’s would be hard for any player to leave behind. But giving back to the game she said gave her so much was easy for her.

“I was a little in denial that the chapter was ending with the Gators and that I wasn’t going to wear the uniform the same way anymore,” Lorenz said.

Five days after Florida’s exit from the 2019 Women’s College World Series, Lorenz quickly hung up her No. 18 Florida Gators jersey to don No. 28 for the USSSA Pride.

She expected to spend the following year supporting her friends when it came time for their own storybook endings.

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When COVID-19’s plot twist said otherwise, Lorenz learned to coach amidst the unexpected.

That meant easing the concerns of seniors panicked about their future eligibility and consoling the shock of freshmen whose Florida careers took an unlikely turn. From hugs, to conversations and motivation, Lorenz’s role became even bigger in a time of uncertainty.

It also meant losing out on a season full of memories with roommate and best friend Sophia Reynoso, who chose to forgo her additional granted year of eligibility.

“She’s become like my family,” Lorenz said. “I hurt when she hurts.”

So much so, Lorenz coined Reynoso and former teammate and roommate Alex Voss with the early titles “Aunt Sophia” and “Aunt Alex” in an emotional Instagram post.

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When it comes to a performance review, Walton gives Lorenz a ringing endorsement.

But it’s not a new assessment; he knew his former player was capable of coaching before she even applied for the position.

“She has a gift of making everybody around her better,” Walton said.

From the Florida freshman who found herself angry whenever she made an out to a composed student assistant coach, Walton became witness to quite the transformation.

“I don't think I've ever been around anybody that is so balanced,” Walton said. “Whether it be in life, whether it be on the softball field, she knows the game.”

Even in a season cut short, her knowledge of the game was on full display this year.

Coming back from her rookie stint with the Pride, Lorenz embraced the freedom of individual preparedness that professional softball offered her. That philosophy helped build upon her own coaching perspective.

She remains a student of the game, eager to both learn and teach. But when it comes to hitting, Lorenz believes in catering toward every hitter’s strength—a strongly shared sentiment between her and the coaching staff at Florida.

“I think that’s the most beautiful part of hitting and why I love it so much,” Lorenz said.

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Lorenz’s practice doesn’t stop at softball—it extends to gratitude as well, especially toward the University of Florida.

“I'll never be able to show how thankful I am because they truly just shaped me into the person that I am,” said Lorenz, who will graduate with a Master of Science in Sport Management this month.

From her very first softball practice, Lorenz’s parents always reminded her to thank her coaches before she left games and practices. With each practice that followed, she realized just how monumental every individual coach was in her life.

And given her chosen career path, Lorenz will start hearing some thank-yous of her own.

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