Looper Named New Head Softball Coach
Aug. 8, 2010
IOWA CITY, IA - University of Iowa Director of Athletics Gary Barta announced today that Marla Looper has been hired as head softball coach. Looper replaces Gayle Blevins, who retired June 17 after a 23-year career at Iowa.
"I am extremely excited and honored to be blessed with the opportunity to lead the Hawkeye softball program," Looper said. "The University of Iowa represents a standard of academic and athletic excellence that is second to none. I look forward to the challenge of leading our student-athletes and helping them become young women who can make a difference on our campus, in the state of Iowa, and nationally.
"We will meet and exceed the expectations on the field and in the classroom," Looper added. "We will build on the strong foundation laid by Coach Blevins - a true pioneer in the world of women's athletics - by settling for nothing other than our best each and every day. I would like to thank Gary Barta and the rest of the administration for this opportunity to join the Hawkeye family."
Looper comes to Iowa after serving as an assistant coach at the University of Texas for the past 11 seasons (1999-2010). Looper helped lead the Longhorns to three College World Series appearances (2003, 2005 and 2006) and nine NCAA Tournament berths. She also helped guide Texas to back-to-back Big 12 regular season and tournament championships in 2002 and 2003 along with regular season championships in 2006 and 2010.
Looper served as Texas' pitching coach from 1999-2005 and mentored softball great Cat Osterman to the USA National Player of the Year Award in 2003, 2005 and 2006. Texas' pitching staff led the nation in earned run average in three of Looper's final four years as pitching coach, while Osterman led the country in 2003 and 2006 in both earned run average and strikeouts per seven innings. In 2006, Osterman set an NCAA record with a 15.4 strikeouts per seven innings mark and also led the nation as a freshman in 2002 with 12.7 strikeouts per seven innings. Osterman won a gold medal in the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece.
As an assistant at Texas, Looper was a part of a staff that was named the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) Coaching Staff of the Year in 2002-03 and the Speedline/NFCA Midwest Regional Coaching Staff of the Year in 2005-06.
Looper held numerous responsibilities in her 11 years in Austin. In addition to her pitching coach duties from 1999-2005, Looper was also in charge of daily workouts and game decisions and assisted with both the offense and defense. From 2006-10, she took over Texas' defense and was the offensive first base coach.
Looper was an assistant coach at the University of Kansas from 1996-99, where she served as recruiting coordinator and pitcher/catcher coach. She helped the Jayhawks to the NCAA Tournament in 1997 and 1999.
Prior to her stint in Lawrence, Looper was a pitcher/catcher coach at Iowa State from 1995-96.
Looper graduated from Florida State in 1995 with a bachelor's degree in nutrition and fitness. She was a pitching standout for the Seminoles, earning All-American honors as a junior in 1993. She led Florida State to the 1993 Women's College World Series and an NCAA Tournament appearance in 1994. Looper earned NCAA Regional All-Tournament honors and All-Atlantic Coast Conference honors in each of her two seasons at Florida State.
Looper's career earned run average of 0.78 at Florida State still stands as fifth best in Seminole history. Additionally, she led the 1993 and 1994 FSU squads in appearances, innings pitched, wins, strikeouts and ERA. In 2003, she was named one of the ACC's Top 50 softball players in conference history.
Prior to her two years in Tallahassee, Looper played at Crowder College in Neosho, MO, where she was selected as a National Junior College All-American as a freshman and sophomore and the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Tournament's most valuable player during her sophomore season. Looper helped Crowder to a runner-up finish in the NJCAA Tournament in both 1991 and 1992. Looper was inducted into the NJCAA Hall of Fame in 2006.
"We are thrilled to announce Marla as our head softball coach," Barta said. "Marla is a proven winner as both a player and coach, making a total of four appearances in the Women's College World Series. She was a part of a staff at Texas that experienced a wealth of success in the Big 12 Conference and on the national level. Marla's successful background, coupled with her competitive spirit and desire to win, make her a perfect fit for our program."