Kirin Kumar Ready To Build On Miami's Recent Successes
Kirin Kumar was fresh out of college when John Bargfeldt offered her an assistant coaching position at the University of Tulsa. Bargfeldt, now an assistant coach at Oklahoma State, had recently taken the head coaching position at Tulsa and had worked with Kumar when she played at Georgia Tech.
Kumar's experience at Tulsa was the starting point for her now 16-year coaching career. This season, she's taken on a new position as the head coach for the Miami University softball program. Now in her first head coaching role, Kumar reflects on her time working with Bargfeldt and calls it the foundation for all that she has accomplished in her coaching career to date.
“He was one of the best,” Kumar said. “He made us think in different ways than you would've ever thought, so he brought different viewpoints. Everything that I've done and know is because of him, so he's prepared me well.”
Kumar also spent time coaching at Tennessee Tech, UNC, N.C. State and Virginia Tech. Under Bargfeldt, she said she was taught the concept of seeing things—and people—in different ways.
“There's what you feel and there's what you see,” Kumar said. “And then off the field, in engaging the athletes in different forms, it's not just about the softball field. I've taken everything that he's taught me and then expanded it and made it what works for me because I have to be authentic to myself.”
Kumar played all four years of her own collegiate career at Georgia Tech as a utility player. Her class was the winningest group in school history, and during her senior season, she hit over .300 and was a part of a team that won Georgia Tech's first ACC regular season title in program history.
In each of her four years at Georgia Tech, Kumar played in the NCAA Tournament. She was named to the ACC All-Tournament team in 2005 and was on two ACC championship teams. As a player, she said she learned the ins and outs of the game, the little intricacies of softball. Throughout her coaching experience, however, she's learned that there is more to softball than just what you see.
“I'm trying to instill and teach the girls here that you don't just do something because we tell you, know why we do it,” Kumar said. “Everything has a purpose. What we do has a purpose. What drill we do, the way we practice, it all has a purpose.”
Kumar accepted the position with Miami at the end of August. In today's COVID era, Kumar's first time meeting her new team was over Zoom. After a fall spent practicing in small groups, Kumar is ready to help the 2019 Mid-American Conference regular season champions and 2020 preseason favorites build off of what was already in place before her arrival.
“These girls are already talented, so I'm not coming in here to reinvent the wheel,” Kumar said. “We are just tweaking things here and there. How do we enhance it? What do we do to be great beyond the MAC? They already have the talent and we know it. They won conference and they were picked to win again. So, it’s about tweaking little things.”