“The program taught me the importance of all aspects of athletics and how a coach who teaches not only the tactical skills, but also the mental skills, the strength and conditioning skills, and the leadership skills, will build strong athletes both on and off the field.”
—Kristin Werdann, 2009 Ball State coaching education alum and a top high school coach in Maryland
While scouting out master’s degrees in athletic coaching education a few years ago, Kristin Werdann, a high school coach in Silver Spring, Maryland, was intent on finding the program that would help her "get the most out of my teams."When she located that program through Ball State University’s online degree offerings, it didn’t disappoint. After graduating from Ball State’s master’s degree with a coaching education specialization in 2009, Werdann was named the 2010 Gazette coach of the year by Maryland Community Newspapers for leading the John F. Kennedy High boys’ soccer team to its first division title in 25 years. According to that news organization, she turned the program into “a perennial contender.” “The knowledge I gained through Ball State helped me compete confidently with the veteran coaches in the county, and I truly earned their respect,” says Werdann, who teaches high school math when she’s not pacing the soccer sidelines. She has been the only female coach for boys’ soccer in the area for nine years. Then in 2011, the Montgomery Blair High School girls’ softball team, where Werdann served as varsity assistant and pitching, outfield, and bunting coach, advanced to the state semifinals, after becoming regional champions for the first time in school history. Plus, her 16 and up traveling summer softball team won a bid to the nationals. Not only is she getting the most out of her teams, the Ball State coaching education master’s program, she believes, has helped make her a more well-rounded coach. “The program taught me the importance of all aspects of athletics and how a coach who teaches not only the tactical skills, but also the mental skills, the strength and conditioning skills, and the leadership skills, will build strong athletes both on and off the field,” she says. One of the biggest draws for Werdann was that she could do her graduate work without leaving her position on the sidelines—or the dugout—or the bench. The 33-credit hour coaching education program is designed so that students can pursue a fast track, taking two classes each semester, and finish in two years. Werdann took that path and, between online classes, taught full time and coached junior varsity girls’ basketball, varsity girls’ softball, varsity boys’ soccer, and her summer softball squad. Werdann says she has a passion for coaching and it was that interest that led her into teaching. She grew up not far from Cooperstown, home of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, and was a star athlete at Oneonta (New York) High School, playing soccer, softball and basketball. After high school, she earned her bachelor’s in mathematics-secondary education at Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., where she played basketball and softball. Teaching credentials secured, Werdann moved to Silver Spring to launch her classroom and coaching career. “As coaches we’re always being watched and imitated by our athletes,” says Werdann, who teaches clinics year-round. She thinks Ball State’s coaching education program has also helped make her a role model for her coaching colleagues. “I’ve shared my experience and knowledge with many coaches, and I hope to help others,” she says. “I like to stress the importance of organization, discipline, mental strength, ethics—all the underrated aspects of the game.”
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