"Having been an assistant for eleven years (in the SEC), I would recommend that to anyone who wants to be a head coach," said Stuedeman. "When you are an assistant coach you learn how to be on someone else's team. You learn how to follow rules. It might not be how you would want it to be but your role as an assistant coach is to follow them. As an assistant, you are going to be onboard with your head coach at all times. I believe, as you do that, you learn to be disciplined and you can better teach your players to be disciplined. I would not have been ready for this role if I had not put in that time as an assistant coach."
Not only did she learn to be a team player but she also learned, while at Alabama, one of the premiere softball programs in the nation, what it takes to win.
"I learned that you definitely, day-in, day-out, have to bring it," said Stuedeman. "Also, being in this league taught me that you have to bring it not only in games but in practices. You can't take a minute off or waste a second."
The talent level in the SEC is also at a higher level than almost every other league. And at Alabama the talent was among the best not only in the SEC but the nation, especially among the pitchers with 6 of the pitchers earning 11 All-American awards. Those pitchers, all taught by Stuedeman who was Alabama's pitching coach, helped Alabama win three SEC Championships, participate in six College World Series and be ranked among the top 10 in the nation during the last seven years. Due to that, Stuedeman learned the importance of not only recruiting but recruiting the absolute best.
"Recruiting is the name of the game," said Stuedeman. "You are only as good as your players. I will coach until I am blue in the face but it is ultimately the kids (who win the games). We definitely have to get kids that know the game. Those kind of kids watch every Major League (Baseball) game, watch every softball game on tv. They know the game. We (as coaches) are just here to polish them."
One other advantage to coaching in the SEC for over a decade is knowing most of the players on the other SEC teams.
"I was actually an assistant coach for fourteen years but eleven of them have been in the SEC," said Stuedeman. "Due to that, when I prepare for the game, I already know (about) the hitters and pitchers that we are going to face. That gives me a little advantage when I prepare for the opponent. I'm still working as hard preparing for them but I already know a little about them. I also know (as an SEC head coach) what kind of competition that we will face."
With her move into the role as a head softball coach in the SEC, Stuedeman is now coaching at the highest level. In the meantime, she has seen the sport of softball in the SEC becoming big-time as well. While that change has brought many benefits to the sport, as with any change, things don't always change for the better.
"In the SEC softball is becoming big-time," said Stuedeman. "Softball is becoming what we wanted it to become when we were little kids. I wanted it to be on ESPN or ESPNU. But softball may becoming a little less pure as well. As an example, in football a kid might commit to a school but he's still being recruited by other coaches. Softball is just now turning into some of that."
Stuedeman, in her role as a head coach, hopes to keep that from becoming a part of Mississippi State softball family.
"My goal, as a head coach, is to get quality athletes who do it the right way and treat everyone around them like what the Golden Rule says, do unto others as you would have them do unto you," said the first-year head coach. "By doing that, I think we will be able to enjoy each other better."
As for being hired as the head softball coach at Mississippi State, Stuedeman couldn't be any more happy or proud to have been given that opportunity.
"Thank the Good Lord for (MSU Athletic Director) Scott Stricklin and (Senior Associate A.D./Women's Sports, Student-Athlete Services) Ann Carr," said Stuedeman. "There are 11 softball coaches in the SEC, about to be 13. And I am one of those people. I couldn't be more blessed. And I am going to take this opportunity and run with it. I am going to work hard every single day to earn it and to keep it. I am going to make all the Bulldog fans proud."
Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.