Culture change guides UWF’s softball program

By Jamel Jackson
Staff writer

Coach Melissa Paul says a culture change has built the University of West Florida’s women’s softball team into a nationally recognized program. The little things that come before softball have helped change the culture and mindset of the program around within her 4-year era.

In Paul’s collegiate career with the Marist College Red Foxes, she was a 2-year team captain which helped her learn how to deal with people. After she graduated, Paul was in unique situation. She went from a player to a 22-year-old coach in two months at her alma mater.

Things were harder before they were better.

“I learned a lot along the way, it took me a few years how to coach and handle people,” Paul said.

After turning the 11-43 Red Foxes into conference champions and helping them reach their first NCAA playoff appearance under her 5-year span, her career blossomed from there.

Her stop at the University of Missouri was highlighted by a knowledge staff, and she learned a lot more about the game. Paul  assisted with taking a below-500 team to the College World Series in three years. She is accustomed to changing a culture.

Learning how to manage people and behaviors have paid diligence to her throughout her career. Having patience makes a difference. Paul has found home at UWF and the culture change is set in stone.

“The location, the university, the admiration support, the resources we need to win and they let us do our job, “ Paul said.

Since her arrival at UWF, Paul surpassed the 100-win mark last season. After going below 500 in her first season, in Paul’s second season the Argonauts went 42-17 overall to record the 13th-best single-season wins improvement in DII history.

Last season, the Argos had another historic season increasing their wins mark from 40 to 46 wins season and making the second consecutive NCAA post- season appearance.

Paul has been all over at every level. Major division 1 (FBS), a smaller division 1 (FCS) and now UWF.

“It’s been a blessing thought I think I have the best job in the country there’s not other place I rather be honestly,” Paul said.

The Argos have gotten off to a slow start this season (17-10). Traveling six out of the first seven weeks and missing game due to tough weather has caused a bumpy start thus far. A few midweek games which won’t get made up seems to be the rhythm the Argos are missing.

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