BATESVILLE, Ark. – A proven winner, a multi-sport athlete in college and self-proclaimed teacher of the game, Travis Owen becomes the fifth head coach of the Lyon College softball program after being named to the position on Monday by Lyon Director of Athletics Kevin Jenkins.
Owen, 28, comes to Lyon College from Northern State University in Aberdeen, South Dakota, where he has served for the past two seasons as the NCAA Division 2 squad's assistant softball coach.
He received his Bachelor's of Science degree in Business/Marketing at St. Louis University in 2007, earning Magna Cum Laude Honors with a 3.5 grade point average. He went on to receive his Master's degree at Northern State in 2011 with a 4.0 GPA, while participating as an athlete and then serving as a graduate assistant coach for strength and conditioning at the University.
Owen has been part of the Sioux Falls Fastpitch Softball League, which features several former national men's team players. Three current players in the SFFSL have been invited to represent Team USA in the ISF World Championships.
Owen began working with a Wolves' team that had posted a 14-29 year during his graduate assistant year, but Northern State finished with its best season in history in 2012, at 24-28, before recording a 19-23 mark this past season.
While he was an assistant at NSU, the Wolves softball program set several school records in 2012, including wins, runs scored (242), hits (422), doubles (66), RBIs (210) and stolen bases (85). NSU led the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC) in stolen bases and made the NSIC tournament for the first time since it expanded.
In addition to working as an instructor at NSU the past two years, Owen handled out-of-state recruiting, including scouting and evaluating recruits, scheduling on-campus visits and worked with compliance. He continued to run the softball strength and conditioning program in addition to his other assistant coach duties, which included developing scouting reports on opponents. He also worked on strategy of opponents, while coaching first base during contests.
"Lyon College is getting a quality coach who prides himself on being a student of the game," said Jenkins of the new addition. "Travis has developed great experience at Northern State, which I believe will translate into him coming here to Lyon and not only recruiting the student-athletes that fit the College, but the program as well.
"We're excited about what is ahead for our softball program. We're young and on our way up and we believe Travis is the man who can put us over the top."
Owen believes his experience as a student at St. Louis University will be an asset when it comes to recruiting in the central United States, bringing talented athletes to Lyon. He said he is excited about what is ahead.
"I'm extremely proud and honored to be named Lyon College's new head softball coach," Owen stated. "Teaching both softball and athletic performance are passions of mine and I look forward to helping the student-athletes improve in more ways than one.
"My first priority is to instill a sense of collective team pride in what we do both on and off the field. We need to be proud to be a part of Lyon softball and it all starts with how we view ourselves.
"This program has a tremendous upside and these young ladies are simply in need of some leadership, after having several head coaches within the past few years. I am in this together with them and we will focus on being winners in everything we do. The wins will come on their own."
Owen said he plans on hitting the ground running at Lyon and both he and the players will be working hard.
"We will practice hard; we will work hard in the weight room; and we won't leave anything to chance," he insisted. "I managed the game objectively, use a variety of stats and scouting and take a chess-like approach to the game.
"We will be consistently learning throughout the year, but in the end we can't out-think ourselves and need to be athletes, not robots. When you are given a role and encouraged to succeed, that is when you are truly creative. The players are on the field to play and I am there to coach, that's the bottom line."
During his career, Owen has also spent time in Colorado, training athletes and other individuals. He has given health and nutrition seminars through Sunflower Market stores and has written for the Colorado Runners' Association.
Owen takes over the program after Lyon second-year head coach Kristen Kolter resigned after a 1-17 start to the 2013 season. Josh Hatfield served as interim head coach, leading Lyon to a 10-22 record for the remainder of the season, including a spot in the American Midwest Conference Postseason Tournament.