This photo was taken following Linda Detra’s 400th career win with then athletic director Shirley Liddle (left) and assistant coach Meredith Mayes ’10 (right) in 2012.
Linda Detra, a fixture of the Arcadia University athletics family since 1971, will retire as head softball coach and Kuch Center Manager later this year. The Department of Athletics will honor Detra on April 13 prior to the Knights’ 1 p.m. doubleheader against Gwynedd-Mercy University at Blankley Field.
“My career has been filled with so many great moments, but what is most important to me is not the wins but the quality of the young ladies that have been involved in my softball program,” said Detra. “It’s my hope that college softball and I have in some way influenced their lives in a positive way. I know the softball program and all of Arcadia athletics are on the rise, and will continue to flourish. It has been very gratifying to see the Arcadia athletic department gain the respect it deserves.”
Detra arrived at Arcadia in the fall of 1971 as an assistant professor of health and physical education and head field hockey coach. She was named department head the following year, and four years later she was named Beaver College’s first-ever athletic director after restructuring by the institution moved athletics away from the physical education program.
Detra oversaw the development of the modern athletic department Arcadia has today. The department grew from five women’s sports (basketball, field hockey, lacrosse, riding, tennis) upon Detra’s arrival, and added baseball, men’s basketball, men’s and women’s cross country, men’s golf, men’s and women’s soccer, softball, men’s tennis, men’s and women’s swimming, and women’s volleyball by the time she stepped down as athletic director following the 1992-93 academic year to return to coaching.
“Linda Detra is truly a remarkable individual and someone who has left an indelible mark on Beaver College and Arcadia University as an administrator, coach, mentor, and friend,” Director of Athletics Brian Granata said. “Linda’s commitment to this university and the entire Athletics Department is unparalleled. She is a caring person, who has touched the lives of so many coaches, staff members, and student-athletes over the past 43 years. Her love of sport is contagious, and her appreciation of the value of Division III athletics is endearing. We wish Linda all the best as she enters into retirement.”
Under Detra’s guidance, then Beaver College was a founding member of the Philadelphia Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (PAIAW) and Keystone Athletic Conference while affiliated with the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). She led the program’s transition to NCAA Division III membership as a founding member of the Pennsylvania Athletic Conference (PAC) in 1993, which coincided with the opening of the Kuch Recreation and Athletic Center and Lenox Pool that same year. Beaver saw a great deal of success during Detra’s time as athletic director, capturing 14 PAIAW titles, seven NAIA District championships and six Keystone titles.
Now in her 21st season as head softball coach, Detra has compiled a 429-292-1 (.595) career record that includes 14-winning seasons. She is the school’s all-time leader in wins and entered the 2014 season tied for 39th among active NCAA Division III coaches in victories. The Knights have made 12 conference tournament appearances, with three appearances in the conference championship round (1997, 2005, 2011). Arcadia has had an individual NCAA statistic champion eight times, and ended the season leading a NCAA team statistical category five times.
Arcadia won a school-record 34 games in 2006, which was the second of of three consecutive 30-win seasons. The Knights captured the 2007 PAC regular-season title with a league record of 20-2, marking the program record for conference wins in a season.
Detra coached the program’s only National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) All-Americans, Maggie Shaeffer ’05 and Laura Fencik ’07. Shaeffer was named a Third-Team All-American in 2004, making her the first-ever All-American in any women’s sport at Arcadia, while Fencik was named a Second-Team All-American in 2005 and a Third-Team All-American in 2007. Both are among five Knights that have combined for 11 NFCA All-Region selections.
Detra was named the PAC Coach of the Year in 2003 and 2007; her teams have produced 77 All-Conference selections. Among them were Jenn Compton ’07, the 2007 PAC Player of the Year and 2004 PAC Rookie of the Year, and 2002 PAC Rookie of the Year CindiaLukomski ’05.
Compton was also named the PAC Scholar Athlete of the Year and was named to the Philadelphia Inquirer/Philly-SIDA Academic All-Area Team, while Kellie Reese ’11, ’14DPT was a four-time NFCA All-Academic selection and was named Arcadia’s 2011 Scholar Athlete of the Year. They are just two examples of her student-athletes to be recognized for their success in the classroom.
Detra added, “One of my earliest memories is my first softball team selling hundreds of Phillies Word Series shirts to allow us to take the college’s first-ever Spring Break trip to Myrtle Beach. Thanks to the hard work of the players and assistant coaches throughout the years, we recently returned from our 20th Myrtle Beach trip.”
Detra earned her bachelor’s in health and physical education from Lock Haven University in 1966, and later earned her master’s in health and physical education from the University of Florida in 1971. During the years between degrees she was a teacher and softball coach at Bristol Township High School, where in four seasons she won three conference titles and was named Coach of the Year three times by the Bucks County Courier Times.
A national search for a new softball coach will begin following the conclusion of the 2014 season.