By Nathan Booth Graduate Assistant, Ole Miss Athletics Media Relations
Windy Thees' philosophy on softball could be called old-school.
"I like nice things, but I'm kind of blue-collar," says Thees. "If you have a bat, a glove and some cleats, you can compete against anybody."
If anyone has proven that over their coaching career, it is Thees. Whether it was as an assistant coach in junior college, head coach at a small Division II school, or coach at a brand new program, the challenge-loving coach has simply won.
Hired in June, the new Ole Miss head coach intends to continue that success here in Oxford.
"I love seeing something and thinking I can make it a winner," Thees says. "If I didn't think that, I wouldn't have taken this job. I truly believe that what Ole Miss has to offer a female student athlete who plays softball is amazing. The campus is the most beautiful I've been on. The education is great. The softball complex is gorgeous. I find it extremely easy to sell to recruits."
After starring on the field at Florida State for four years, Thees' coaching career began in 1998 as an assistant at the junior college level. At Lake City Community College in Florida, Thees helped the team to a runner-up finish at the 1999 Junior College National Championship.
In the fall of 1999, at the age of 24, she became the head coach at Division II Georgia College & State University. Thees quickly had to acclimate herself to the role of a small college softball coach in Georgia.
"The administration said `Here you go,' and completely stayed out of it," recalls Thees. "I mowed the grass. I watered the field. I taped some ankles. And we recruited on a thousand dollar budget."
Thees went on to compile a 163-92 record in her five years there, highlighted by a runner-up finish at the Division II Softball World Series in 2003. That year, she was named the Peach Belt Conference Coach of the Year and the Division II South Atlantic Region Coach of the Year.
In 2005, Thees accepted the head coaching job at Memphis and took on the biggest challenge a coach can face-building a new program.
"I had six months to recruit a team by the fall," she says. "And we didn't even have a field."
Thees and her players had to drive one hour every afternoon to Greenbrook Park in Southaven, Miss. for practices and games.
"So, I've actually coached in Mississippi," Thees jokes. "But we were able to win. We just got kids that wanted to be a part of something special."
In her sixth and final season at Memphis in 2011, the Tigers earned the program's first NCAA Tournament bid and finished with a 35-14 record. Not only did her teams excel on the field, they also did so in the classroom. During her tenure, the program had 15 NFCA Scholar Athlete selections.
At Ole Miss, she will look to turn around a program that went 14-39 this past season, and she will look to do so in the always challenging SEC. Last season, the SEC placed four teams in the Super Regionals, including eventual national runner-up Florida. To no surprise, it is a challenge Thees relishes.
"This is the top of the food chain when it comes to softball," says Thees. "For me to be able to come here with my staff [assistants Mike Perniciaro and Julie Meyer] and accept this challenge-this is why you play. You go to play the big teams-to play the teams that are going to be in the World Series. And one day, hopefully that team is going to be you." Thees' goal for the program is clear. She wants to turn Ole Miss into a perennial NCAA Tournament team and eventually reach the Women's College World Series.
"I think that is every staff's goal," she says. "If it's not, you probably shouldn't be coaching softball."
For Thees, reaching that goal starts with instilling a competitive spirit and a hard-working attitude in practice. Even if it is something as simple as trying to shag more fly balls in practice than a teammate, she wants her players to fight hard on the practice field.
"Florida is out there practicing in Gainesville today," Thees says. "But today, if every single one of our girls decided they were going to outwork Florida, then we beat them on the practice field. And hopefully it will translate to beating them on the game day field."
Five Ole Miss Rebels were chosen as preseason All-SEC selections by some of the people who work closest with the student-athletes, the football media relations directors. The 14 football media relations directors of the Southeastern Conference institutions voted in the... read more
The preseason accolades just don't stop for the Ole Miss football team. Everywhere you look, Rebels can be found on preseason All-America teams. Lindy's Sports recognized seven Rebels for preseason honors, including four All-Americans. Four Ole Miss Football Rebels were... read more
With the season just 74 days away, members of the 2015 Ole Miss football team continue to earn recognition on Preseason All-America lists. Athlon Sports, the latest media outlet to release its 2015 college football preseason All-America team, gave five... read more
Preseason All-America football teams continue to roll in, and Ole Miss has been well represented each time.Today, the Sporting News unveiled its preseason All-America first and second teams, which includes a total of four Rebels.OT Laremy Tunsil and DT Robert... read more
Individual preseason accolades continue to pile up for the Ole Miss football team as college football magazines look toward the 2015 season. Athlon Sports is the latest magazine to release its preseason all-conference teams, June 10; the magazine named nine... read more
The start of summer heat and vacations is also the start of another tradition - preseason college football magazines.One of the first to produce a magazine every year is Phil Steele, whose 2015 version includes about as many Ole Miss... read more
Although they will not begin competing for the Rebels until the fall, several members of the 2015 signing class have arrived at Ole Miss to begin their college journey this summer. The first of two summer sessions offered at the... read more
Ole Miss Athletics Week in ReviewApril 28-May 4, 2015Baseball - The Rebels started the week defeating the Bulldogs, 11-1 in the annual Governor's Cup. The 10-run win for the Rebels marked the largest margin of victory in the 36-year history... read more
Welcome to Pittsburgh...and welcome to #SteelersNation, @Quez_G! #SteelersDraft pic.twitter.com/oY8wZc10Kk-- Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) May 2, 2015 Congrats Senquez Golson! Drafted 56th overall in the 2015 #NFLDRAFT by the Pittsburgh Steelers. #HottyToddy #FinsUp pic.twitter.com/EPGayDNOu7-- Ole Miss Football (@OleMissFB) May 2, 2015 Ole... read more
Six men with ties to Ole Miss were part of the inaugural class of 25 athletes and coaches inducted into the Scott County Hall of Fame this past Saturday at Roosevelt State Park in Morton. It is believed that this... read more
In a tie for 7th place at 7-under, @OleMissFB takes home $30,000 in charity and scholarship. #CFAPBGolf pic.twitter.com/qd0JzilyYR-- #CFAPBGolf (@CFAPeachBowl) April 28, 2015 The Ole Miss team of head football coach Hugh Freeze and Sean Tuohy turned in a strong... read more
The Ole Miss men's and women's tennis team learned their postseason destinations, as the men's and women's NCAA Tournament fields were announced Tuesday. The men, ranked No. 13 in the nation, are the No. 14 overall seed and will be... read more
Ole Miss Athletics Week in ReviewApril 21-27, 2015Baseball - During the five-game homestand, Ole Miss went 3-2 with a midweek win over Central Arkansas as well as claiming a weekend series over Alabama. - The Rebels recorded 68 hits throughout... read more
With a distance of 287-yards, the 2015 #CFAPBGolf Coaches Division Long Drive Champion is @CoachHughFreeze! pic.twitter.com/ProCdgbbg9-- #CFAPBGolf (@CFAPeachBowl) April 27, 2015 Ole Miss head football coach Hugh Freeze took home the long drive title at the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl Challenge... read more