August 2, 2010

Matador Minute With Tairia Flowers

Aug. 2, 2010

  How does it feel to be a Division I head coach?

 "I don't know if it's really set in yet. I haven't really had a chance to sit down and soak it all up. I have talked with all the girls and everyone on campus talks about what a great group of people we have in our softball program. I am excited to get down to business."

  What is it that you've learned about coaching and softball having played for some of the sport's all-time greats coaches such as Sue Enquist and Mike Candrea?

  "Although Coach Enquist and Coach Candrea had differences in their coaching style, they also shared a lot of similarities about the game. Both always said to keep the game simple and not over-analyze. Coach Enquist used to say that softball is a game where you go 60 feet and turn left. I also learned from them to take pride in the little things and to ultimately go out there and have fun. Finally, both coaches stressed the importance of building relationships. I was very fortunate to have them be part of my softball career and hope to use the lessons I learned from them in my coaching."

  Looking ahead to 2011, what do you know about the group of returning Matadors?

  "I know they had a great season last year and are hungry for even more after speaking with them. They overcame some unique circumstances last year and recorded some impressive victories, like the shutout of Oklahoma. I know this team knows how to work hard, enjoy the game and be successful. I am ready for them to come back so we can get to work."

  As a former Olympian, what are your thoughts on softball's exclusion from the next two Summer Games?

  "I was very disappointed to see softball taken out of the Olympics for 2012 and 2016. When I see how the game has grown, going from a few games on television when I was playing in high school, to the expanded coverage of the NCAA Tournament and international competition, it's difficult for me to believe. Some of my favorite memories as a member of Team USA were the interactions we would have with the fans and the younger girls getting into the sport, so a lot of that could be lost with no Olympics to help bolster the appeal of the game. There is still a national team and there will still be international competition, but to not have it in the Olympics is frustrating."

  Can you talk a little about your coaching philosophy and what we might see from CSUN starting with the 2011 season?

  "My philosophy is to be aggressive. I'm not really into all the trick plays, but I like to take bases, move runners and be aggressive early in the count. If we're going to make mistakes, I want it to be because we're aggressive, not passive."

  Can you talk about the people who had a profound impact on your softball career?

  "As a coach, I look back to playing and working for Coach Enquist. I got to play all four years of my career for her and served as an undergraduate assistant. She had a way of being tough, yet building you back up, something I think is especially important. She always had ways to motivate us and stay connected with the team, examples that I hope to implement with my own program."

  What was it like seeing your Bruins re-claim the National Championship and what were your thoughts on the World Series as a whole?

  "Well, I am a Matador now and this is my family now, but I was excited to see UCLA take home the title. It was great to see all my former teammates out there cheering them on and its nice to know that you'll always share a connection with the people who come through the program. As for the World Series, I was rooting for the Pac 10 all the way. I wanted it to be an all-Pac 10 final and we got that in a great series between UCLA and Arizona."

  What is it like working with your husband, CSUN Women's Basketball Head Coach Jason Flowers?

  "We got to work together for a little bit at Long Beach State, but I am very excited to have us both at Northridge. To reach what we've both been striving for in becoming head coaches is amazing. To do so at the same school is even more incredible. Now we'll both be able to attend more of our games and we'll have company with our new baby."

  Speaking of which, how is motherhood treating you?

  "This year has been crazy, but it's been great. Jayce was born on April 26, 2010 and he's starting to get to the age where he's smiling and cooing. You'd never think watching someone lie there would be so fun, but it's awesome."

  What are your thoughts on the Big West, both in the past and moving forward?

  "I think the league has a lot to offer. It's a very competitive collection of programs who have had a lot of success on the regional and national level. Being in Southern California, we're in the hotbed of softball recruiting. I think the league tends to be a little underappreciated, in part because of the success of the Pac 10 and because some schools with football tend to get a little more attention whether they deserve it or not. The Big West is only going to get better and that starts at Northridge."

  So when we get to the first game of the 2011 season, are you going to be a little nervous?

  "I think it's very possible. I got nervous before every game I played or coached in, but settled in once I got in the field or had an at-bat. I think the butterflies show that you're ready to go out and compete. If you're not excited or a little nervous, it's harder to be prepared for the game."