The Weber State University softball team announced the hiring of Mary Kay Amicone as head coach this last week. She is replacing coach Tina Johnson, who helped restart the softball program at WSU and coached the Wildcats for the last four seasons.
Amicone spent the last eight years as head softball coach at Salt Lake Community College. She brought back seven Scenic West Athletic Conference titles and made three straight appearances in the National Junior College Athletic Association championship games in 2011, 2012 and 2013. She was also named SWAC Coach of the Year four times.
Before SLCC, Amicone spent three years as head coach at Brigham Young University. In the 2001 season, Amicone and her team won the Mountain West Championship. She began her coaching career at the University of Utah, where she spent seven years as an assistant coach.
Amicone began her playing career at WSU, playing two seasons for the Wildcats during her collegiate player career. Her final two years were spent at the U of U after WSU’s softball program was shut down.
“I think success is dependent upon recruiting and having a winning culture, and that culture will help us,” Amicone said. “I’ll be utilizing the ties that we had in Salt Lake and expanding that into other junior college programs and other Utah programs.”
Jerry Bovee, director of intercollegiate athletics at WSU, discussed his decision-making in Amicone’s hire.
“She was a coach that was on my radar early on and was someone we were interested in,” Bovee said. “We went after her; we recruited her hard. She has demonstrated a lot of experience over the years in the sport, and there’s just a solid base.”
Bovee said he was very interested in recruiting Amicone for many reasons, one of those being her recruiting abilities.
“It’s her knowledge of softball, it’s an understanding of our culture and our recruiting region, and more than anything else, it the ability to coach the game and win,” Bovee said. “She’s had all of her success at SLCC with local kids. . . . That was very appealing to me. We always want to recruit from inside out if we can do that and be successful. Her philosophy is sound.”
Senior Kylee Colvin, pitcher for the WSU softball team, played her first two collegiate years with and in two national championship games under Amicone’s direction at SLCC before coming to WSU last season.
“I always knew she was bringing her A-game, and you knew she was always focused on us and how to make us better every day,” Colvin said. “She gets us mentally ready for the game, putting us in the situation, 3-2 count, runners on first and third — you always know where to go. I am so excited to play for her again for my senior year.”
In the past four seasons since softball was reintroduced to WSU, the team has been in an uphill battle, winning just 23 percent of its games.
“We lacked the mental game most,” said senior shortstop Brooke Silva. “Once we do that, we can click and get W’s.”
Silva said she was impressed with the success Amicone has had in her previous coaching career.
“She has a good win-to-loss ratio,” Silva said. “I’m excited and confident that she can lead us to a great turnaround. It’s something new, and I think it will be good for us.”
Amicone said she’s already carried forward a lot of what she thinks the team needs to be successful.
“Creating the environment for success, first of all in the classroom, and then building character — those two things are key to the play out on the field,” she said. “I’m not going to change a lot of what we did at SLCC; why do you change something that has been proven to be successful? I’m going to use that.”