Today’s Original Retro Brand “5 Questions with…” interview features Head UCLA Softball Coach, Kelly Inouye-Perez. Kelly recently capped off her fourth season at the helm by leading the Bruins to their 11th National Championship. As a player at UCLA, Kelly was an All Pac-10 catcher who eventually became an assistant coach before taking over the top spot in 2007. Kelly was named Pac-10 Coach of the year in 2009, and after the 2010 campaign, her overall record stands at a very impressive 183 – 49. Kelly was gracious enough to take a few minutes and share some of her thoughts on the UCLA magic…
Andy: At UCLA you’ve won 3 Softball National Championships as a player, 3 as an assistant, and after defeating Pac-10 rival Arizona in the 2010 Finals,
your first as a Head Coach. Assuming they were all memorable in their own
way, can you tell us one that stands out as the most fulfilling and why?
Kelly: As a player, there is a great deal of excitement to be a part of the team between the white lines. 1992 was a great year where our team excelled and I was able to have a standout year helping my team win a championship vs. Arizona. I made the All-CWS Team by hitting and playing defense with great success. But winning this first championship in the Head Coaching role was a very fulfilling moment in my career. This year had many obstacles with injuries to several “go to” players and I had to change the lineup throughout the season. Every coach dreams to have a season come together to have the team play at their BEST at the end, and this years team not only won a championship, but did it in record breaking fashion. They succeeded and dominated like no other UCLA team ever. It was a tremendous TEAM success, and that makes me very proud to have these Bruins experience success, especially when the world didn’t expect us to. I am so thrilled to bring home #106 for UCLA (106th NCAA Team Championship – more than any other school in the country).
Andy: I am a big fan of College Softball. I’m especially enamored with the
pitching, and marvel at how the women bring the heat UNDERHANDED. As a player, you were a catcher for some of the greatest to ever pitch in Lisa
Longaker and Lisa Fernandez. Do you feel your experience behind the plate
has given you a decided edge over other coaches (in handling your pitchers)
in bringing the 2010 title to Westwood?
Kelly: Being a catcher has helped me understand the game on a different level. I had a view of the batters, how the defense set up, and a feel for how to manage pitchers with their tempo and control. I have been fortunate to
have caught some of the greatest pitchers in the game, and this year we had
5 very talented Bruin pitchers in the circle. This allowed us to have
valuable depth against each opponent. As a coach, we prepared to use the
entire bullpen as needed, and it was great to use that depth to beat Arizona
in the 2 game series. They all worked together, and having the depth allowed
me to strategize against each opponent to throw them off their rhythm and
timing, which is what all great pitchers do.
Andy: Speaking of Westwood, it was inspirational to see your team honor
legendary Basketball Coach John Wooden with your JW wristbands. How much of an influence has he been on your coaching career?
Kelly: John Wooden affects all coaches at UCLA with his words and his presence. I was fortunate to have met him several times as did our players. He was one of the first to call me and congratulate me when I received the job. Our team in 2010 studied his pyramid of success throughout the year which brought an emotional connection to him and he was with us in Oklahoma City. We were inspired and motivated as we excelled in the “competitive greatness” phase of our season. I am fortunate to have him with me for life as a mentor and role model. He taught me to appreciate the little things, and to understand that nothing is more important than hard work.
Andy: After 23 seasons at UCLA, would you ever consider coaching in the
National Pro Fast Pitch League?
Kelly: Actually, no. I am fortunate to be able to lead this program and it is
a full time commitment. This is my top priority and I enjoy every minute
Andy: I know you are a big fan of Original Retro Brand Apparel. Can you tell me why you like it so much?
Kelly: The Original Retro Brand Apparel is fresh, modern, and edgy. I believe our girls are great role models for all because they are beautiful, talented athletes, that also represent in the classroom. They work hard to maintain healthy bodies and the Original Retro Brand Apparel fits well and allows them to maintain their active lifestyles with a touch of class. The product line is exactly what our girls love to wear for comfort and fashion in one.
We want to thank Kelly once again for her time today (you can check her Bio on the UCLA Official Athletic site), and also wish her counterpart UCLA Men’s baseball team good luck, as they try to win a College World Series of their own.
If you are a big fan of the Original Retro Brand, and want to be featured on “5 Questions with…” please forward a picture of yourself wearing Original Retro Brand gear, and a brief description of what you do for a living to firstname.lastname@example.org If we like what we see, you may be contacted for an interview. You don’t need to be a Division I Championship Coach like Kelly – just a fan of the brand; Heck, we’ll send you an Original Retro Brand T-Shirt if we decide to post your story!