Winningest Coach in Arcadia University History Notches 400th Victory

By Purnell T. Cropper | April 17, 2012

Arcadia University Head Softball Coach Linda Detra—the winningest coach in the 158-year history of Arcadia University—reached an elite milestone on April 15 by posting her 400th victory when her team secured a 9-2 victory in the second game of its afternoon doubleheader against local out-of-conference rival Gwynedd-Mercy College at Blankley Field. (Photos.)

After Gwynedd-Mercy took the opener, 6-5, Arcadia began the second game focused on getting back in the win column. The Knights saw their efforts pay off in the first when the full lineup made an appearance at the dish and produced a 5-0 lead.

With the team up 9-2 in the final inning, the animated Arcadia dugout continued to rally the offense with its usual reverberating chants. But perhaps like no other day, the head coach of 19 years absorbed the resonant melodies as she remembered the nearly 400 individual voices that have filled the team’s dugout over the years.

Win 400 was made a reality as Arcadia’s defense forced the Griffins into three straight fly-outs in the top of the ninth to end the game.

Surrounded by her players and coaching staff as the dugout cleared, Detra described the path to her 400th career victory. “Achieving 400 wins has been a long, hard, but mostly fun ride. I credit the players that have come to Arcadia for the right reasons: academic reputation, the experience of playing Division III softball and the pride of representing your team in front of friends and family. The reputation of Arcadia’s softball program, the dedication of the young women who have chosen to be a part of that tradition and the energies of my great assistant coaches through the years have helped me to achieve this milestone.”

A tribute to the caliber of student-athletes she recruits, Detra ranks in the top 36 active NCAA Division III softball coaches in wins. She resides at 53 overall by victories among All-Time DIII coaches through the 2011 season. (Statistics.)

“Winning 400 softball games in her career has put Linda in a very select group of coaches. It is clear proof of her dedication, knowledge and commitment to her students and her program,” says Arcadia Athletic Director Shirley Liddle, who has witnessed the entirety of Detra’s 400-win career. “Linda puts her personal accomplishments second to those of her program, and her players would testify to that. Her teams always boast the spirit and enthusiasm that mirrors Linda’s. This is but one hallmark that Linda should feel very proud of accomplishing.”

“Tell any ordinarily successful coach about Linda’s achievement, and they will just scratch their head and say, ‘Wow! 400?’ In the world of sports, that’s a simply amazing number,” says Arcadia University President Carl (Tobey) Oxholm III. “And just think of the hundreds of scholar-athletes whom she has inspired with her commitment to teamwork and excellence.”

Student-athletes who have donned the Scarlet and Grey for Arcadia’s consistently competitive softball program resoundingly agree, with a repetitive theme: Coach Detra expects academic performance to match the effort student-athletes give on the practice and playing field.

“The last decade or so, you cannot mention Arcadia Softball without mentioning the tradition Linda brings to the program,” notes alumna and two-time All Conference honoree Virginia Buechel ’11. “She has always inspired her athletes to do well on the field and even better in the classroom. Building strong, competitive teams throughout the years has been the norm, but producing good student-athletes who work harder and build their personal characteristics outside of softball is what most outside of the program might not recognize.

“Linda has done so much for me as an Arcadia student-athlete alumna by inspiring me to be a better person and leader off the field,” says Buechel. “In my last season with Linda, I felt that she helped prepare me to move on to bigger and better things by pushing my limits and leadership skills as a student-athlete. I want to congratulate her on her 400 wins and the continued success I know she will maintain with our program.”

“Coach Detra has bettered my life both on and off the field,” notes sophomore starting catcher Leanda Helms ’14. The constant encouragement, irreplaceable advice and witty sense of humor all add to her approachable personality and mentor-like role. She has encouraged me to focus on my studies while still keeping me very much involved with the team itself. She has taught many valuable life lessons and has become not only a coach but a friend. I am truly a better person for all of these experiences she has provided.”

On her way to the illustrious milestone, Detra has amassed numerous coaching career highlights that have allowed Arcadia’s softball program to continuously draw in high-caliber student-athletes. Under her tutelage, the program has compiled 11 seasons with 20 or more wins, with three consecutive 30-win seasons from 2005 to 2007. The program’ most productive season by victories came in 2006 when the team compiled an overall record of 34-9 during the program’s final year as a member of the Pennsylvania Athletic Conference (PAC). An eight-year run of conference tournament appearances occurred between the 2000 and 2007 campaigns.

Three-time All American player Laura Fencik ’07 says, “Lin really understands the value of an education and understood that we were always students before athletes. She would always celebrate our academic success with our teammates and would even encourage us to utilize one another for tutoring and study groups. The camaraderie we had off the field translated onto the diamond where our athletic determination and success shone through.”

Fencik and her classmate All American Jennifer Compton ’07 combined for unprecedented success in garnering national, regional and conference accolades both for academic success and athletic prowess from 2004 through 2007.

In total, Detra has coached 11 All Regional athletes, three All American selections, two conference Rookies of the Year and a Player of the Year, along with more than 60 combined All Academic and All Conference players. Her teams have made 10 Pennsylvania Athletic Conference tournament appearances, finishing as runners-up in 1997 and 2005. Her squad her earned a berth in the MAC Commonwealth Conference semifinals in 2009 and competed for the league championship against Messiah College in the 2011 finals.

Detra has collected Coach of the Year honors twice in the Pennsylvania Athletic Conference (2003, 2007) and also from the Lower Bucks County Courier Times.

The Langhorne, Pa., native earned an undergraduate degree in Health and Physical Education from Lock Haven University, where she also earned the Golden Whistle Award given to the outstanding senior in physical education. Detra went on to earn a graduate degree in Physical Education from the University of Florida and did post-masters work at Temple University in Sports and Recreation. In addition to her coaching duties, she serves as Arcadia’s Senior Woman Administrator and Athletic Facilities Director.

The team faced a busy and tough week in and out of the Commonwealth Conference with an eight-game stand over the past five days that began with a thrilling doubleheader split against Lebanon Valley and now ends with another against Gwynedd-Mercy. The Knights travel to Wesley College for a non-league twin-bill on Tuesday, April 17.

Heather Buriak ’13 notched the win as Arcadia’s game two starter, finishing a no-hitter through two frames with 3 walks and a strikeout. Ashley John ’14 went three-for-three with three runs scored, while Alexandra Schafer ’15 registered two hits, scored a run and stole a base. Marissa Perez ’13, who made the final out of the game, and Staci Lynn Borrel ’14, each added a hit and two RBIs in game two.