AC News Service
Mark Mattson attended his own press conference held to introduce the new Angelina College softball coach to members of the media and community, but he was a little antsy to get it finished.
He was ready to head to the softball diamond as soon as the microphones shut off.
"These facilities are beautiful," Mattson said. "They're a huge selling point for this school and for any potential players. I'm excited to get out there with some of our returning players just as fast as I can."
Mattson arrived this week from his previous post at North Dakota State College of Science, where he was a two-time Coach of the Year while leading his teams to a pair of conference championships and three appearances in the regional tournament in his four seasons at the helm. He takes over an AC program just now heading into its fifth season of existence, a point AC president Dr. Larry Phillips acknowledged during his opening remarks.
"As we begin a new era in what is still a very young softball program, we're excited to have this guy join not only our softball team, but our faculty as well," Phillips said. "We feel he'll bring so much to this campus both athletically and academically."
Mattson's NDSCS teams made the Academic All-American list in consecutive seasons, a point Mattson says is an emphasis in any of his programs.
"We put the responsibility on the players, and we explain they're probably not going to play professionally – sure, it's a goal, but it's not a guarantee – but you have to think beyond that," Mattson said. "I want them to understand before their athletic careers are over what's really important in life."
Mattson said his players have also been focused on community service, something he plans to extend during his tenure at AC.
"When it comes to community service, my players and I don't talk about it, we just go out and do it," Mattson said. "We've worked at the Humane Society, or at some of the homes for the elderly. I want people to know who these kids are; it's something they deserve, but it's also about giving back to the community who supports it."
Asked if he was aware of the veritable hotbed of softball talent available throughout the East Texas area, Mattson gave an enthusiastic acknowledgement.
"If there are players in my backyard, I want to go get them," Mattson said. "I've heard a lot about some of the high school programs in the area and the kinds of kids they put out, so I definitely want to recruit there first." As for his teams' style of play, Mattson said it's actually pretty simple: Try and knock the ball out of the park.
"My personal philosophy is I love to hit the ball out of the park," Mattson said. "My teams have led the league in home runs the past few seasons wherever I've been.
"I think the easiest way to get people to come to the park is hit the ball over the fence. I can work with small ball, but that's not necessarily the direction I prefer. Still, if I have a player who can slap the ball and get on base, she's going to play."
The new coach also commented on the challenge of helping build young programs, citing his experience as the first coach of the first-ever program at NDSCS, a Division III school.
"I think my experience there will help somewhat," Mattson said. "I know AC is in the middle of a powerhouse conference in this sport, and I know we'll have a lot of work to do. But I expect to step in and get things moving right away. I expect that of myself wherever I am.
"I'm just very appreciative for having the opportunity to do what I feel I do best, which is coach softball and work with these young women as they prepare themselves for the future."