RIO GRANDE, Ohio — Chris Hammond made a successful leap from being a summer travel ball coach to being a head coach at the high school level.
Now, he’ll look to duplicate that same success as he makes the jump to the collegiate coaching ranks.
Tuesday morning, University of Rio Grande athletic director Jeff Lanham announced that Hammond will become the school’s new head softball coach.
Hammond, who guided neighboring Jackson High School to a 16-8 record and a trip to the sectional finals of Ohio Division II tournament play earlier this year, replaces Amber Bowman, who resigned last month to accept an assistant coaching position at NCAA Division I Indiana-Purdue-Fort Wayne.
Bowman led the RedStorm to a 32-win season and an NAIA National Tournament berth in her only season at the helm.
“I’m excited to begin a new coaching challenge. I’ve always had a passion for intercollegiate athletics and I want to thank the University of Rio Grande for allowing me to have this opportunity,” Hammond said. “I believe there’s a solid foundation in the softball program. With that foundation, we want to set high expectations for our student-athletes in the classroom and on the softball field.”
Hammond, a 1993 graduate from the University of Akron, served as an assistant coach at Jackson High in 2012 and 2013 before taking an assistant coaching position at Portsmouth Clay High School – where he was a teacher – for the 2014 season.
He returned to Jackson as the school’s head coach earlier this Spring and led the Iron Ladies to the Southeastern Ohio Athletic League (SEOAL) championship, earning Coach of the Year honors in the process.
“I’m a person who coaches with a high level of energy,” said Hammond. “I’m one who demands hard work and discipline. Along with the entire coaching staff, I want the student-athletes to display good character and values as we represent the University. We want the softball program to show characteristics that will make the Rio Grande community and all alumni proud.”
Hammond, whose resume also includes stints as a football and basketball coach at the high school level, has enjoyed a great deal of success as a travel ball coach over the past six summers.
He guided his 12-under team to the USSSA World Series in both 2012 and 2013 after taking a 10-under team to the USSSA World Series in 2011. His 14-under squad reached the SEAA World Series in 2014.
“Chris is incredibly energetic and he’s been successful at virtually every level of coaching in his career,” Lanham said. “He’s never coached at the collegiate level, so we understand there’s going to be a bit of a learning curve. But we’re excited to have him on board.”
Hammond, who will begin his duties on Wednesday, knows he’ll have plenty of work waiting for him when he arrives on campus, including meeting with his players, rounding out his coaching staff and completing the varsity and junior varsity schedules for the 2016 season.
“At the present time, it’s difficult to say how the transition will go. I always feel with any new coach coming into a program, the biggest challenge will be how the student-athletes adjust to a new system,” he said. “Each season brings new challenges. Our goal as coaches and players are to prepare to meet these new challenges.”
Lanham added that Hammond’s hiring should bring a measure of stability to the Rio softball program, which – including Hammond – has had five different head coaches since 2010.
“Chris is a guy who has roots in the area, he’s raising a family here. He wants to be at Rio Grande and we’re happy to have him joining our family,” Lanham said.
Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director at the University of Rio Grande.