Mona Stevens, a former Ute herself, enters her eighth season at the helm of the Utah softball program. Stevens, a well-known coach at the collegiate, national and international levels, has guided the Utes to three NCAA Tournament appearances, two Mountain West Conference Tournament titles and one regular-season championship. Also during her seven-year tenure Utah has compiled 237-177-1 overall and 92-60-1 conference records.
When the 2003 season concluded, Stevens saw three of her players (Lynsey Wall, Glennis Donnelly and Niki Hayhurst) receive all-MWC honors. Wall was also named to the all-MWC tournament team. Overall, Utah posted a 20-27 record, while finishing at 7-9 in league play. Seven of the losses came to teams ranked in the top 25. Utah also lost 14 games due to inclement weather over the course of the year.
An NCAA Tournament appearance highlighted the Utes 2002 run, along with the Mountain West Tournament Championship. The Utes finished the regular season in second place and had four players garner all-league honors, while Jen Pursell was named tournament MVP and three other players were noted all-tournament. Melissa Stahnke and Molly McLean garnered all-west region and Verizon Academic All-America District VIII honors. Utah wrapped up the year with a 30-36 overall record and a 10-4 league record.
In 2001, Utah saw two players receive all-West Region honors in Lyndsey Trevis and Niki Hayhurst. Six Utes were selected to the all-MWC team, including Player of the Year Trevis. The second-place Utes notched 37-25-1 overall and 11-8-1 conference records.
Sweet sounds were ringing in 2000 as Utah advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16. The Utes finished as the NCAA Region I Tournament runner-up, as Stevens posted her 150th career win with a 4-1 victory over Mississippi State. Four players were selected to the all-West Region Team and senior Sunny Smith was named second-team All-America. Besides the national accolades, five Utes were named all-MWC after the team won the inaugural regular-season and tournament championships. Pitcher Kristin Arbogast was voted league Player of the Year and designated player Hayhurst claimed Freshman of the Year honors. Stevens claimed Coach of the Year honors as Utah ended its run in 2000 with a 42-23 (.646) overall record and a No. 20 ranking in the final USA Today/NFCA poll. She received Utah's Don Reddish Coach of the Year Award in `00.
In 1999, Utah posted a 28-27 overall record and was the runner-up in the WAC Tournament with a 4-2 record, losing to No. 2 Fresno State in the championship game. Stevens guided a young Utah team, featuring just one senior and 10 newcomers, to a 36-21 overall record and a 19-13 league mark in `98. The Utes finished third in the WAC and won 13 of their last 18 games, including a defeat of eventual national champion Fresno State. Sandy Rhea was named second-team All-America, as well as first-team all-region and all-conference.
Stevens tasted instant success at Utah in her first year as the head coach. The 1997 Utes went 44-18, tied for the second-most wins in school history, advanced to NCAA Regionals and finished the regular-season ranked 14th in the nation. Utah finished third in the WAC with a 22-10 record, equaling the most wins ever in league play for the U. Utah ranked 10th in the nation in team ERA (1.22) and 17th in hitting (.314) in `97. The Utes' high-powered offense broke the WAC single-season record with 12 triples in league play and also established a Utah record with 81 doubles. Rhea was named first-team All-America, all-West Region and all-WAC.
Before rejoining the Utes, Stevens was the associate head coach at UMass for three years and had just been named head coach of the UMass program before accepting the post at Utah. There she helped the Minutewomen reach the NCAA Tournament and win the Atlantic-10 Conference regular-season and tournament championships all three years. UMass posted a 78-37-1 combined record and a .667 overall winning percentage during Stevens' tenure. As associate head coach, Stevens worked extensively with the UMass pitching staff, which had a two-year combined ERA of 1.30. In `96, the Minutewomen ranked 13th in the nation with a 1.27 team ERA.
Stevens began her coaching career as an assistant at Utah from 1981-84. She helped guide the Utes to a College World Series appearance in `82, the 1984 High Country Athletic Conference (HCAC) title and a 172-87 record. Stevens also coached seven of the 10 Utes who earned All-America honors during their careers.
The former player doesn't seem to slow down during the off-season. She was head coach of the USA Softball Junior National Team that won the silver medal in the 1999 World Games in Taipei, Taiwan, June 17-27. During the summer of `97, Stevens directed the USA Softball National Team to the gold medal at the Pan American Games qualifying tournament in Colombia, South America. Team USA posted a 12-1 record under Stevens with shutout wins in all but two games, while outscoring its opposition 114-6. As a reward, she was honored as the United States Olympic Committee National Softball Coach of the Year. Stevens also coached the gold medal team in the 1998 USA Softball Festival.
In addition to her collegiate and USA Softball coaching portfolio, Stevens has been a nationally recognized pitching instructor for the past 18 years. She was the lead instructor for the U.S. Junior Olympics Coaching School from 1984-96 and a hitting instructor for the 23-and-under U.S. Men's National Team in the fall of `94. She also served as the coordinator for the National Softball Coaching School from 1993-96, training all other national instructors.
As a player at Utah from 1978-80, Stevens helped lay the foundation for the nationally prominent program she has inherited. Stevens was an all-conference pitcher and the team's best hitter as a senior, leading the Utes to a 35-17 record, the Intermountain Athletic Conference title and a No. 6 national ranking in `80. Stevens is the only player in Utah history to belong to both the Ute .300 and 1.50 clubs, meaning she boasted a career batting average over .300 and a career ERA under 1.50. Stevens graduated from the U. in `80 with a bachelor's degree in physical education. She was inducted into the Utah Softball Hall of Fame in the fall of `97.
Stevens has also worked internationally, instructing coaches and players in Taiwan, Canada, Italy and New Guinea. The owner of Mona Stevens Enterprises since `89, Stevens conducts workshops, clinics and camps for thousands of coaches and players annually. She is the author of The Fastpitch Softball Drill Book: A Coaches' Guide to Common Problems and Corrections, and has produced three instructional videotapes. She is also one of the authors of the Softball Coaching Bible, published in 2002 by Human Kinetics.
Stevens is currently serving as the President of the National Fastpitch Coaches Association. The Provo, Utah, native is the lead singer and fellow guitarist for the band Sister Wives, which was recently voted one of the three best new bands in Utah by the Salt Lake City Weekly. Stevens resides in Salt Lake City.
Read the Salt Lake Tribune's feature story on Mona Stevens.