The only person to pilot the Flagler College softball program is stepping aside for a different leadership challenge. Kristen Overton announced her resignation on Friday in order to spend more time with her two young children.
Overton was named head coach ahead of Flagler’s first season in 2009. During her tenure, the Saints recorded a 263-214 record.
“I have known for a while,” Overton said. “Most of my coaching career, I have known I didn’t plan on coaching my entire life. I have a master’s degree and at some point I wanted to switch into administration. … Once I got into St. Augustine, and I knew how much I loved St. Augustine, things changed a little bit.”
Overton has lived in close proximity to Interstate 95 her entire life.She was a member of Stuart Martin County’s 1997 state championship team, played for the University of North Florida for four years, assisted her father Dale at Indian River State College in 2005, and spent three years as an assistant at Nova Southeastern in Davie.
But St. Augustine has been special, she said. That’s what made it so difficult to leave Flagler.
“There have been so many good memories,” Overton said. “There have obviously been some tough seasons and tough things to deal with. The relationships and the people I’ve worked with and the relationship I have had with the players and the relationships I had with the community, all of that has made me grow as a person. I’m really grateful that I moved to St. Augustine for this job, because this is where I’m going to call home from here on out.”
Overton was named the 2017 Peach Belt Conference Coach of the Year after leading the Saints to a 37-19 record this spring.
The Saints won a school-record 18 games in conference and advanced to the tournament final.
Mackenzie Conley, who will graduate in December with a degree in sports management, finished her career this season as Flagler’s all-time leader in home runs (44) and RBIs (158), tied for first with 32 doubles and second in hits (191), runs scored (120) and slugging percentage (.580). Conley credited Overton for the culture she established within the program.
Conley, an all-conference catcher this spring, also thanked her coach for converting her into a catcher. It’s a role Overton knew well because she was a catcher at Martin County and UNF.
“Coach Overton was looking around the team and her eyes landed on me,” Conley recalled in an April 24 interview. “The bruises are the same as the other girls, but my knees are not as tired as the other girls who have been catching longer than I have.”
Conley, like Overton, has been an academic achiever. Overton earned her master’s degree from Florida Gulf Coast University five years ago – while coaching the Saints. The departing coach managed to juggle motherhood and coaching along with her work on an accounting degree.
Overton said that as difficult as it was to leave the program that she literally built from the ground up – the Flagler softball fields were not completed when she accepted the job – she knows the team is in good hands. A strong undergraduate core and a culture of success give her confidence in that respect.
“The culture of the team is better than we’ve ever had, even in 2012 when we had a spectacular year,” Overton said.
“The girls who are on this team, we had an amazing group of girls who are very coachable. They are young. I feel good about leaving this team to someone else because they are a coachable team. If any team could handle a coaching change of the nine that I’ve had, it’s this one.”
Flagler Director of Athletics Jud Damon said a search will begin Monday for the program’s coach.
“Kristen will be sorely missed by the athletics department, but we have great respect for the very difficult decision she has made,” Damon said in a statement.
“She built our softball program from the ground up, taking us from no team at all to NCAA prominence – and she did it while representing the college in a first-class manner at all times and positively impacting the lives of countless student-athletes and the community of St. Augustine. We are very proud of what she has accomplished here and we wish her and her family every blessing in the future.”