Ole Miss Felt Like The Right Fit For Jamie Trachsel
It clearly wasn’t an easy choice for Jamie Trachsel. Emotion filled her face during her introductory Zoom press conference for Ole Miss on Tuesday. Last Friday, it was announced the Duluth, Minn. native was leaving her Minnesota head coaching position to fill the vacant spot for the Rebels. She wasn’t looking to leave home, but when the right opportunity came around, it was hard to let it pass her by.
“Sometimes when it’s the right fit at the right time, you just kind of know,” Trachsel said. “I’m always going to be drawn toward people and the level of commitment, the opportunity...That’s who I am as a coach, very relationship-based, player-development friendly. I’ll be honest, it’s hard to leave home, but each opportunity presents something different and I’m excited for what is in front of me.”
Ole Miss Athletic Director Keith Carter and his search committee were very impressed with Trachsel during her interview. While on Zoom, the committee exchanged text messages about her answers, her questions and the time she put into researching Ole Miss. Talking to Trachsel thrilled the administrators as much as her resume did.
Trachsel and the school were safely able to get her to Oxford for a visit, and at that point the deal was sealed.
“(She has) a great background. A lot of success at North Dakota State, then onto Iowa State and to Minnesota,” Carter said. “She’s taken her team to the (Women's) College World Series, which is the level we want to be here at Ole Miss. We feel like the foundation of our program is set up and ready to take that next step and we think Jamie is the coach to do that for us.”
Carter mentioned that Ole Miss had a “master plan” for softball a few years ago that was put on hold. Those projects were discussed with Trachsel, and depending on the position the school's finances are in once the COVID-19 outbreak is over, Carter said softball will be a priority for those big projects the athletic department is considering.
The hiring of Trachsel gives the feel that softball is valued in Oxford. The Star Tribune reported that Trachsel will be making $245,000 a year in her new position, compared to the $140,000 salary per year she made at Minnesota.
It’s about more than just money for Trachsel, though. She enjoys the challenge, the next chance for her to improve a program.
The Ole Miss softball program was in an odd state in 2020. Despite reaching a Super Regional in 2019, former head coach Mike Smith resigned last December after an investigation by the school. Assistant coach Ruben Felix took over in the interim and the Rebels went 12-13 in the shortened season.
Trachsel knows implementing a new culture into a program isn’t always the easiest thing, but she’s experienced at doing it.
“Coaching changes are hard,” Trachsel said. “It doesn’t matter how they facilitate, they are just hard. There’s a lot of emotions, different opinions, different conversations behind the scenes. The dynamic of your team is going to be impacted.
“What I look forward to is coming down there, putting a great staff together and uniting everybody. Getting everybody back on the same page, making it simple again, being passionate about what you do.”
The effects of quarantine have changed the path of the year for many people in college softball. For example, Trachsel would still be coaching Minnesota during a normal season right now. But there are positives to it as well. Trachsel can’t hit the recruiting trail right away, but she can, however, start to develop relationships with current Rebels without worrying about a player’s pitching arsenal or bat path.
Trachsel is a people person. She doesn’t know every detail about all of her new players yet, but she will eventually, since she’s dedicated to accomplishing that feat. She knows how to get to the Women’s College World Series, and she feels like it’s possible to do that in Oxford.
“You speak it into existence,” Trachsel said. “Work at the level that you need to and commit to, to challenge and be able to play your best when it matters the most when you’re in those moments...You can put the right people in the right place at the right time, and you can do some pretty special things.”