The longest tenured coach in Texas-Arlington history, Debbie Nichols-Hedrick begins her ninth season at the helm of the UTA softball program. In eight seasons as the Lady Mavericks leader, Nichols-Hedrick has mentored her squad to a Southland Conference regular season title, SLC tournament title, a school record 41 wins (2003) and the programs first NCAA tournament berth (2003) while combining for a 196-210-2 overall mark.
Last season, Nichols-Hedrick guided her young squad that boasted just one senior and no juniors on its active roster, to a fourth-place finish in the SLC with a 15-10 clip. The Lady Mavericks closed out the year with a 13-3 home record and three underclassman earned all-conference honors as UTA earned the fourth seed in the league's postseason tournament.
Nichols-Hedrick enjoyed a record breaking season in 2003 as the Lady Mavericks rolled through league play to finish with an astonishing 23-4 record on their way to the Southland Conference regular season title, the first in Nichols-Hedrick's tenure at UTA. The ladies weren't finished as they went on to sweep the conference postseason tournament to take home the school's first softball tournament crown. The Lady Mavs continued to break records as they set a school record for wins in a season after snapping Florida State's 27-game winning streak, the nation's longest at the time, by defeating the Seminoles 1-0 in the NCAA Regional in Gainesville, Fla. UTA went on to win one more game in the regional, eliminating host Florida, in the Lady Mavs first-ever trip to the NCAA tournament.
After such a successful season, Nichols-Hedrick was honored by her peers as the 2003 Southland Conference Coach of the Year.
A conference title will be this year's goal as Nichols-Hedrick entertains 13 newcomers in addition to her returning eight, four of which have had a taste of the conference title and NCAA tournament. The experience and determination of the eight returners combined with the growth and development of the newcomers, should prove prosperous for the Lady Mavericks.
As a student-athlete at Louisiana Tech from 1987-90, Nichols-Hedrick became one of the best pitchers in the history of the National Collegiate Athletic Association.
Nichols-Hedrick earned three All-American certificates in a Lady Techster uniform, which is now on display at her alma mater after her number was retired in 1996.
Nichols-Hedrick enters the 2005 season still holding three NCAA records: most games in a career (193); most complete games in a career (182) and most shutouts in a single season (36). In addition, she ranks second in career wins (149), single season wins (50), career shutouts (84) and most innings pitched (1,373).
The 2002 NCAA record book also lists Nichols-Hedrick among the top 20 all-time single-season records 12 times.
In the fall of 2003, Nichols-Hedrick was inducted into the Louisiana Tech Hall of Fame.
Nichols-Hedrick is now in her 11th year on UTA's coaching staff, having served as UTA's top assistant coach in 1995 and 1996. During those two years, UTA's hurlers were among the SLC leaders in earned run average, and one, Kimberlee Johnston in 1995, was an honorable mention All-SLC performer.
Since taking over the reigns, she has guided UTA's first-ever first team GTE Academic All-American, Lisa Verheul. Nichols-Hedrick also guided standout pitcher Katy Cox to SLC Pitcher of the Year and SLC tournament MVP honors in 2003 as the Lady Mav's ace led the league with a 1.31 earned run average.
Before coming to UTA, the Mesquite native was an assistant coach at Louisiana Tech in 1990 while completing her degree in business administration.
When she is not on the field with her team, the Lady Mavs coach spends most of her time with her husband, Wayne, and daughters, Shelby and Peyton.