June 6, 2011
Fresh off her first season as a head coach, CSUN's Tairia Flowers embarks on another coaching first this summer: working with Team USA Softball as an assistant coach. A veteran of two Olympic Games and numerous competitions, Flowers now transitions from looking for her name in the line-up to being the one to help set the order.
The first member of the 2004 USA Olympic team to become a Division-I head coach, Flowers now has her sights set on influencing the next group of young women to don the red, white and blue.
"I am definitely looking forward to it, especially because this will be a whole new environment with a lot of these young women earning the chance to represent their country for the first time," Flowers said.
She will assist Team USA head coach Ken Eriksen at several events during the summer, most notably the World Cup of Softball VI in Oklahoma City from July 21-25. The event brings together teams from Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, Great Britain, Japan and the United States.
"Any time you can get the chance to put on the red, white and blue, a certain pride comes over you," Flowers added. "I am excited to see this new crop of young women represent our country. Getting the chance to do so in front of such great fans in Oklahoma City should only enhance all of our experiences."
Eriksen was a member of the coaching staff on the 2004 US Olympic Team and that familiarity has Flowers eager about the summer ahead.
"Coach Eriksen brings a tremendous amount of knowledge to the game. Having been a player himself, he is aware of every aspect related to the game from scouting to prep work to calling pitches," she said. "He's always on top of things and for me to see it from a coaching perspective will give me a better appreciation of all the nuances of the game."
Joining Flowers on Coach Eriksen's staff is a familiar face, former UCLA and Olympic teammate and current Associate Head Coach at San Diego State Stacey Nuveman.
"I am very excited to make this transition together with Stacey," Flowers added. "We are always bouncing ideas off each other and I think her presence will be invaluable. She was a great player and it is exciting to be coaching with her on a day-to-day basis."
In addition to her time in Oklahoma City, Flowers will work at the team's selection camp in Chula Vista, Calif., from June 13-17. She will then be part of tour stops in Salem, Virginia (June 29) and Bowie, Maryland (July 1).
Flowers also plans on bringing a special guest to her trip to Oklahoma City, her son Jayce, who celebrated his first birthday in late April. He and Flowers' husband, CSUN women's basketball head coach Jason Flowers, have already become a veteran presence on Matador road trips this past season.
In her first season with CSUN, 2011 proved to be a valuable learning experience for Flowers and the Matadors. Although the overall record demonstrated some growing pains, the club finished strong and won its final three Big West Conference series.
That included taking two of three games at Cal State Fullerton, the first Northridge squad to accomplish the feat in Orange County since 1998. The Matadors also defeated four teams that participated in the 2011 NCAA Tournament and had four players selected to the All-Big West Team.