A year before Lourdes University softball players will lace up their cleats, adjust their visors, and take the field for the first time, their coach is burning phone lines recruiting.
Jo Ann Gordon is also racking up mileage on her car -- lots of mileage. In scouring the region for talent, Gordon visited three states in three days last weekend. That's not rare for her. She estimated that 80 percent of her day is spent recruiting, either in person watching a game or on the phone contacting prospects.
Such is the life of a coach responsible not just for bringing in a class, but for bringing in an entire team. Without tradition to speak of and no facilities at this point, the sales pitch hasn't been easy.
"But it hasn't been as challenging as I thought it would be," Gordon said. "It's exciting to see the interest in the program with it being a brand-new program."
Gordon, University of Toledo's head coach from 2003 to 2008, has signed 10 players. Local recruits are Whitmer High School's Taylor Derr, an outfielder twice named All-City League second team; Evergreen High School's Megan Mosiniak, a second team Northwest Ohio Athletic League catcher; Anthony Wayne High School's Brianna Megyesi, a first-team Northern Lakes League shortstop; Perrysburg High School's utility player Emily Gawronski, and pitcher Kasey Graham, a Clay High School graduate who is 12-1 in her sophomore season at Owens Community College.
Gordon hopes to bring in 18 to 20 recruits. She traveled to Battle Creek, Mich., last weekend to watch Lourdes' future opponents battle in the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference tournament, then headed to Pittsburgh and Akron to evaluate prospects at high school games.
"I'm trying to find those diamonds in the rough who are still available," she said.
Gordon was in no hurry to return to coaching after UT dismissed her after she posted a 97-197 record. She offered softball lessons at Wizard World in Holland, where she met Gawronski, Mosiniak, Megyesi, and Taylor Duvall, a senior at Monroe Jefferson who has signed with Lourdes.
Gordon was an acquaintance of Roseanne Gil-Jacobson, Lourdes athletic director, and when the two got together, she said, "I fell in love with the place." She was hired Aug. 22. "And I started recruiting Aug. 22," Gordon said.
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