Oct. 12, 2015
With the resignation of softball head coach Scott Peterson in April and the addition of an expanded track and field program to UCCS, two head coaching vacancies have been filled by the athletic department.
Erika Rothbauer is the new softball coach, while Brandon Masters takes over the track and field program.
There is a new face this season on UCCS’ softball team. The new head coach is Erika Rothbauer, or as she introduced herself, “Coach Ricki.” Originally from Louisville, Ky., Rothbauer comes to UCCS from Northwestern Oklahoma State and is thrilled to be at UCCS.
“This part of the country is so beautiful,” she explained. “Colorado Springs is a good fit for me culturally and personally. It reminds me of where I am from.”
As this is her third head coaching job, she knows what it takes to integrate with a new team and the veteran players.
“You have to ease your way in with veteran players who are used to one system,” Rothbauer said. “Something that was very appealing about this team is how young they are. It is easier to teach them a new system.”
Her philosophy for the veteran players is to have multiple lines of communication open. Rothbauer explained she already had one-on-one meetings with all of the players and once a week the players get feedback. If they have any questions, she is willing to answer them.
“I really want them to understand the new process,” she said.
Rothbauer explained the positive aspects of coming to a new team.
“It becomes routine in picking up players’ habits. And each day is a new adventure with the team.”
Using the fall as a time to develop, Rothbauer explained their focus so far.
“While we have shown strength on both sides of the ball, we need to keep developing, emphasizing our pitching and directional hitting, which has already gotten better.”
Track and field coach
The addition of an expanded track and field program has brought Brandon Masters back to UCCS as the new head coach. He was an assistant coach at UCCS for four years before he went to Missouri S&T, where he served as the head coach for three years.
“I lived in Colorado for 10 years and wanted to be back in Colorado coaching and UCCS is putting a big emphasis in development of a competitive track and field team,” he said.
“Furthermore, I had the opportunity to finish building what I started here a few years ago. It was a no-brainer to come back.”
Masters explained his plan for building the program.
“My focus is to build this team with top student-athletes. The focus will always be placed on quality academics first but a close second will be athleticism and performance and the willingness to build something special.”
The UCCS cross country teams has been successful on both the men’s and women’s side, with both teams qualifying for nationals last year. Masters knows those athletes will an important part of the track team’s success.
“Many of the cross country runners have strengths on the track and will be a big part of what we accomplish as a team. I will be working with the cross country coaches to get the biggest benefit from their athletes for our team.”
One of the biggest hurdles for a new coach is recruitment in the first year of competition. But Masters isn’t worried about that.
“I am offering an opportunity for track athletes in jumps, throws and sprints to come to a fantastic school to continue their career in track and field at the collegiate level,” he said.
“I have had immediate success in recruiting and interest is incredibly high. I love that there is so much interest when athletes find out UCCS is developing a team with focus based on jumps, pole-vault, throws and sprints.”
Head coach hiring process
The athletic offices, tucked away on the top floor of the University Center, are where all the coaches you see at the games hang out, recruit and prepare.
Nate Gibson, senior associate athletic director, knows coaches don’t always stay in one place or one university, and one of Gibson’s jobs is to go through the long process of hiring a new coach.
“What we look for in a head coach first is institutional fit,” Gibson said. “At UCCS, this means finding someone who has been successful motivating the scholar athlete to excel in the classroom and in their sport.”
Each coach that wants to work at UCCS must keep UCCS values, such as integrity, innovation and collaboration, in mind when applying.
“I see the mission of UCCS Athletics as impacting student athlete lives through academic and athletic excellence. Athletics is an incredible opportunity for a coach to teach, model and impact young people,” Gibson said.
“I want our student athletes to say that their coach taught them values such as work ethic, perseverance, integrity, passion, commitment and other values that sports reinforces.”
The length of the hiring process depends on the number of applicants. Many people want to work at UCCS, so the process is usually a long one, Gibson said.
The search committee is usually a group of five, with other affected individuals on campus often involved.
The hiring committee uses resources such as specific job posting websites and their own network of contacts to try and find a good fit for the position.
“We try to be intentional in welcoming new coaches to the UCCS family,” Gibson said. “We have a tight-knit department and make sure those new hires, and in many cases their families, feel included.”