Spring 2010

[News]

Coach Cheek Gets Hall of Fame Nod

Frank Cheek

With his recent induction into the National Fastpitch Coaches Association Hall of Fame, HSU Softball Coach Frank Cheek adds one more laurel to a legendary career that includes two national titles and numerous trips to conference championships.

The former Marine has been coaching softball for 26 years. “Unfortunately for the women, I brought a drill sergeant approach to coaching softball,” Cheek remembers about starting out. “Let’s just say I made a lot of mistakes. But I’ve made a lot of adjustments since then.”

What hasn’t changed is the discipline and work ethic he brings to HSU softball. The result has been 17 conference championships, 18 appearances in the West Region tournament, five regional titles and two national championships.

“The successful players in his program are disciplined and the pressure he puts on them in practice is so intense that the game seems easy,” said College of the Redwoods head coach Maggie White, who played for Cheek for four years in high school and four more at HSU before serving a stint as his assistant coach. “Not all players can play with this pressure. He attracts talented athletes who are also mentally tough or they do not make it.”

The 2008 Lumberjacks proved to be one of Cheek’s toughest groups, bouncing back from a first-game shellacking in the NCAA Division II West Region to win that tournament and advance to nationals in Houston. All-American pitcher Lizzy Prescott tossed a 17-inning, complete game, 1-hitter against Lock Haven University in the national semifinals, striking out an NCAA-record 22 hitters in the 1-0 victory. HSU finished the season with a 10-game winning streak, crowning it with a 1-0 win over Emporia State in the national championship game.

The 2009 team struggled through ups and downs, by Cheek’s standards, but still ranked No. 1 in the west most of the season and was listed among the nation’s top 10 all year. Heading into the 2010 season, the goal of a national championship remains the primary focus, something the Jacks first achieved in 1999.

At 71 years old, he is still going strong.

“I love what I’m doing,” Cheek said. “My daughter wants me to keep coaching, and my wife wants what’s best for me. And I feel like I’m a vital part of this program. I’ve watched the program grow, and want it to keep on that path.”