Release Date: 7/20/2000
CLARKSVILLE, Ark. ---Jon Janssen of Clarksville has been hired as the head coach of the new University of the Ozarks women's fastpitch softball program, which will begin competition during the Spring 2001 semester.
Baptist University, has been an admission's counselor at U of O since 1996 and head coach of the men's and women's cross country teams since 1999. He will continue to coach cross country.
"It's an exciting opportunity for me to help build a new athletic program and continue to be a part of the university," Janssen said. "I look forward to the challenge of starting a program from the ground up and bringing in quality students-athletes to represent the university on the softball field."
Ozarks is the first college in the Arkansas River Valley to start a softball program. Hendrix College and University of Central Arkansas, both in Conway, and North Arkansas Community College in Harrison are the nearest softball-playing colleges.
"It's a tremendous time in this region as far as fastpitch softball," Janssen said. "Clarksville High School is starting a program this year and other high schools in the area are getting their programs going. I read recently that high school fastpitch programs grew by 71 percent in the last two years in Arkansas, so the state is going to be a great recruiting area for us. Plus, our program gives Arkansas players another opportunity to continue their softball careers and their college education."
Janssen's first two priorities will be recruiting and preparing the softball field for competition. A softball complex on campus that was previously used for intramurals is getting a complete facelift, including new sod, dugouts and fencing.
"We've known for more than a year that we were going to start softball, so we got a head start on recruiting," he said. "The softball complex is coming along nicely. I don't think people will recognize it when it gets completed."
U of O Athletic Director Jack Jones said Janssen's proven track record as a recruiter for the university will be a strong asset to the softball program.
"Jon has a great rapport with students and he understands well the admissions aspect," Jones said. "He's the type of person who can bring in good quality athletes and students, plus he's a hands-on person. He's going to go out and do whatever it takes to make the program a success." Janssen was hired after a nationwide search by the university.
"We looked through a lot of candidates and it came back to the fact that Jon has great communication skills, is a proven recruiter and is enthusiastic about starting the program," Jones said. "He's someone who is familiar with U of O and this area and he's going to be a great addition to the athletic program."
Janssen expects to have a squad of about 20 women when spring practice begins in early September. A 25-game schedule will get underway in February. U of O will be the 12th softball-playing school in the 16-team NCAA Division III American Southwest Conference, comprised of schools from Arkansas, Texas, Mississippi and Louisiana.
Janssen and his wife, Kim, have three children, Brittany, Mikayla, and Monique.