Softball Alumni Head NCAA Teams

    Softball Alumni Head NCAA Teams

    Boise State, Utah Valley, and Cal State Dominguez Hills coaches have UCSD roots

    UCSD is known to have a proud tradition of academic and athletic excellence, but what is not always well broadcasted, is the long list of student-athletes who have gone on to begin careers as NCAA coaches.

    UCSD softball alumni Erin Bridges-Thorpe (class of 2000), Kim Aggabao (class of 2004), and Nikki Palmer (class of 2007), all outstanding former Tritons, played softball under UCSD head coach Patti Gerckens — now in her 21st season — and have all gone on to become top-class collegiate coaches.

    Bridges-Thorpe graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in economics and management science in 2000 and went on to earn an MBA from Cal Poly Pomona in 2008. She was named four times to the NCAA All-West Region team, finished her career with NCAA All-American honors and was selected as the UCSD Female Athlete of the Year.

    The first full-time collegiate coaching gig for Thorpe was at Whittier College in Whittier, Calif. from 2002 to 2007. Thorpe made the jump up to Division I when she was hired as the head coach of the newly started softball program at Boise State University in September 2007, where she remains in charge today. Bridges-Thorpe led the Broncos to their most successful finish to date in 2012 when the team snagged a 34–20 record during their first season as a member of the Mountain West conference, finishing in second place.

    Nikki Palmer — another UCSD softball player now coaching at the Division I level — graduated in 2007 with a B.A. in sociology and later went on to earn an M.A. in teaching. She was hired by Coach Gerckens as an assistant coach in the year following her graduation.

    “Coaching alongside Coach G. was immediately eye-opening,” Palmer said. “I learned the other side of the game that I previously did not give much thought to. Ultimately, Coach gave me the boost and experience I needed to push me into the full time coaching career that I have today.”

    After five years at UCSD, Palmer became a journeyman. From 2008 to 2010 Palmer moved up the coast to become an assistant coach at San Francisco State. Palmer later moved on to coach at Utah State University, before working with Weber State University. Palmer got her first head coaching gig at Utah Valley University.

    The Utah Valley Wolverines are currently 0–8. Coincidentally, Palmer’s most recent defeat came at the hands of none other than Coach Thorpe’s Boise State Broncos in an 8–1 loss this past weekend.

    Former Triton Kim Aggabao spent nine years as an assistant coach for Division I programs.

    Upon graduating from UCSD in 2004 with a degree in biology, Aggabao began her coaching career as an assistant coach with the University of San Diego Toreros.
    “My four years as a student-athlete at UCSD were some of the best years of my life,” Aggabao said. “I am so grateful for that opportunity to receive a great education and also play a sport that I love.”

    During her time at UCSD, Aggabao spent four years as a starter for the Triton infield. She was a three-time First Team All-CCAA selection and CCAA MVP, as well as an All-West Region selection in her senior year in 2004.

    Aggabao attributes much of her success to the guidance she received from Coach Gerckens.

    “She has played a major role in my growth as a coach,” Aggabao said. “Gerckens is someone I can rely on if I ever have a question or [need] advice.”

    After her stint as an assistant at USD, Aggabao went on to become the head coach at South Dakota State University, but her time in South Dakota was cut short when an opportunity to return to the CCAA presented itself, and she was hired as the head coach at Cal State Dominguez Hills for the current 2013–2014 softball season.

    The Toros, a past rival of UCSD softball, hosted the West Regionals in 2012 against the Tritons who came back to win the series and move on to their National Runner Up finish in the NCAA Division II Nationals that year.

    Since then, a program rivalry between the Tritons and Toros has been apparent, and now with a Triton alum at the helm of CSUDH, the competition is sure to be stiff this year. The Toros are currently 6–2 and sit one spot behind the Tritons in first place in the CCAA.

    “My coaching philosophy is prioritized into four areas: academics, athletics, service and life skills. It’s important to me that my student-athletes excel in each of those areas,” Aggabao told the UCSD Athletics Department.

    But the legacy of former players turned softball coaches doesn’t end with Aggabao. Kris Lesovsky and Camille Gaito, both 2012 graduates, were brought on as assistant coaches for the 2014 season. Both members of the National Championship team in 2011 and National Runner-Up team in 2012, they are back to help lead the team to another strong season.

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