Brette Kohring’s roots in softball have a distinct orange-and-blue tint to them.
She was a standout player for the Angelina College Lady Roadrunners for two years, leading the 2019 team to a runners-up finish in the national tournament. Her first assistant coaching job landed her right back on the AC campus, where she helped lead the Lady ‘Runners to a 38-16 record in 2022.
So when former head coach Josh Barnes accepted a new position closer to his family in Missouri, the reach for a new head coach was a short one. Last week, AC named Kohring the new head Lady Roadrunner softball coach beginning immediately. She becomes just the fourth head coach in the program’s history.
“You know, it was a whirlwind when all this happened, maybe the craziest few days of my life,” Kohring said. “Now that it’s settled down and soaked in, I’m just so excited. It’s such an incredible opportunity.
“I have a great group of girls returning, and I know it’s going to be so much fun working together.”
Kohring cited her list of mentors she credits for preparing her for this position. She played for Mark and Barbi Mattson, the coaching tandem responsible for the Lady ‘Runners’ national championship in 2014 and the runners-up finish in 2019. With Barnes, Kohring saw the AC program return from a pandemic-induced layoff and flirt with a national ranking.
The Mattsons own the all-time program record for overall wins, while Barnes established the program record for wins in a season (38) for a first-year coach.
Kohring said she managed to absorb plenty from each of them.
“Playing for Mark and Barb (Mattson) really made me fall back in love with the game of softball,” Kohring said. “I was coming from a different organization and situation, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to play any longer. When I got to AC, the Mattsons taught me a lot of things I didn’t know I didn’t know. They played a role in developing the person I am today.”
“Josh, man, he was a rock. I learned something every day from that man. I tried soaking up anything that came out of his mouth, just because he knew what he was talking about. Because of him, I really fell in love with the coaching aspect. He made it look easier than it is, that’s for sure.”
After developing as a player and coach with those different mentors, Kohring said while there will be evidence of their influence, her program will also feature her own approach.
“There will be a little of their styles in what we do, just because that’s how I developed,” Kohring said. “There are certainly some aspects I want to do differently. It’s about finding the right balance of pushing and pulling back. I’ll have to try it out and see what works.”
Easing her transition will be the return of most of last year’s roster, including an All-American and five All-Region and/or All-Conference players.
“The core from last year’s team is coming back, and we’ve got some great girls coming in,” Kohring said. “The fact these girls trust me means so much.”
“I think we’re going to prove some people wrong if they don’t think we’re going to do well.”
Kohring said she plans to employ the same positive approach that has served her well as both a player and a coach.
“My players will know the game of softball is going to knock you down,” Kohring said. “We play a game of failure, and every player experiences more failure than success in softball. The best of the best still fail six or seven times out of 10 when they step up to the plate.
“I know I did better when I was being encouraged instead of getting torn down, and that’s one thing I want to share with players,” Kohring added. “I want to encourage continuously, just because young players are hard enough on themselves when things aren’t going well for them.”
The email address for AC’s Sports Information Director is firstname.lastname@example.org.