One of the trickiest aspects of guiding a team consistently toward a national championship is facilitating that team's peaking at just the right time. Washington head coach Teresa Wilson has proven herself quite adept at that skill.
The Huskies have been serious contenders for the College World Series title, appearing in the championship game in 1996 and 1999 and advancing to the semifinals in 1997 and 1998. Furthermore, the Huskies have earned berths into the NCAA tournament every year since their second season and claimed the Pac-10 Championship and a No. 1 ranking in both 1996 and 2000.
Entering its 11th season, the UW softball program already has cemented its place among the nation's elite teams. As the only head coach in Husky history, Wilson truly has guided the program from the ground up, leading the Huskies to a 485-182 record, accruing an incredible .727 winning percentage. All totaled, Wilson's players have earned 24 All-America certificates, 69 selections to All-Pac-10 squads, and 50 All-Conference academic honors.
A fierce competitor, Wilson has been successful in both her playing and coaching careers. After setting numerous records as an All-American pitcher at Missouri, she earned national and conference Coach of the Year honors . Her 16-year career coaching record of 689-343 (.668) also includes stints at Oregon and Minnesota. Wilson was named National Coach of the Year in 1989 at Oregon and has earned conference Coach of the Year honors at each stop. She has taken all three schools to postseason play, and in 1989 she became the first person to have both played and coached in the College World Series.
Wilson also has been successful at the national and international levels. In 2001, Wilson was one of just 12 elite coaches selected for the USA Softball Women's National Team Coaches Pool. In the summer of 1998, she served as an assistant coach for the USA team competing for the International Softball Federation Women's World Championship in Fujinomiya City, Japan. She also helped coach the 1997 USA team to a silver medal at Superball '97 in Columbus, Ga.
In 1992, when Wilson was offered the opportunity to build the Husky softball program, she readily accepted the challenge of developing a team to compete in the country's toughest softball conference and against the nation's other top squads. After arriving on the UW campus, she spent one season off the softball field recruiting talented athletes with a strong desire to win. She also worked vigorously to schedule, develop indoor and outdoor facilities and order equipment. As ambitious as she has been successful, Wilson's goal was to be competitive from day one.
She has never looked back. In her first year at Washington, the Huskies fulfilled Wilson's competitive goal with a 31-27 record, including seven wins in the Pac-10. A year later in 1994, the program claimed its first NCAA berth, a 44-21 record, and national recognition by being ranked in the top 15 throughout the season.
In 1995, UW notched its first 50-win season with a 50-23 record and spent all season ranked in the top 20. Wilson picked up her 300th career win with a 3-0 blanking of DePaul on March 24 and then led the Huskies to a fourth place finish in conference play with a 17-11 record. Washington advanced to the regional championship before falling two wins short of the College World Series.
The 1996 season fell just two runs shy of being the utmost dream year. The most successful season in school history, the squad garnered Wilson her first No. 1 ranking in the USA Today/NFCA poll on April 24, won the school's first Pacific-10 Conference softball title and became the first team since 1983 to compete in the championship game in its first CWS appearance.
After Wilson's initial UW signees concluded their careers in 1996 by finishing as runners-up in the College World Series, many wondered if the remaining Huskies could continue the tradition. They certainly did. The 1997 squad gave Wilson her third-straight 50-win season at UW (50-19), her 400th career win, and her 200th victory wearing purple and gold. But perhaps less expected, it won the regional championship and made a trip to the College World Series for the second consecutive season.
Despite losing 10 starters over the past two seasons, Wilson took a young squad back to the College World Series semifinals in 1998. With a starting lineup that featured seven freshmen and sophomores, the Dawgs ranked either third or fourth the entire season and finished third at the CWS. The final game of the season, a rematch against eventual-champion Fresno State in the semifinals after downing the Bulldogs that same day, was the 400th in Wilson's UW career.
Wilson also reached two more career marks a year later, doing so on consecutive weekends in 1999. She won her 500th career game on February 26, against Missouri, her alma mater, and then posted her 300th victory with the Huskies against Portland State on March 5.
The 1999 Huskies made a return trip to the national title game, coming within one run before succumbing to UCLA, 3-2. Despite the loss, the 1999 squad logged the program's fifth straight 50-win season, finishing 51-18 overall.
The 2000 season proved to be a milestone year for the Huskies, as Wilson led the team to a program-best 62-9 record and a fifth consecutive trip to the College World Series. The UW, which was ranked first in the nation for 13 straight weeks, broke more than 30 team or individual records en route to its second Pac-10 Conference title.
On the personal side, the Huskies' 62-win season allowed Wilson to reach her 600th career victory and put her just one win away from her 400th win at UW, which she claimed in 2001. Wilson also was honored as 2000 Pac-10 Co-Coach of the Year, the third such honor of her career.
In 2001, Wilson directed a young Husky squad, which included 10 freshmen, to the program's eighth consecutive NCAA tournament berth and a top-three finish in the Pac-10, in what was supposed to be a major rebuilding year.
Last season, the Huskies fell short of their intended goal of returning to their sixth CWS, despite a 46-18 record. Washington entered the regional tournament as the No. 1 seed but suffered a pair of one-run loses to Michigan and Ohio State to be eliminated from the postseason. Although seen as a dissapointing season for the Huskies, Wilson did lead the team to a third-place finish in the Pac-10 for its ninth straight, top-four finish in conference play and the team's ninth postseason appearance.
Wilson arrived at Washington with outstanding credentials after serving as head coach at Minnesota and Oregon. At Minnesota (1990-91), she led the Gophers to a first-place finish in the Big Ten her second year to earn Big Ten Coach of the Year honors. In her four years at Oregon from 1986 to 1989, her teams climbed the Pac-10 charts. Tying for fifth her first year, the Ducks were the conference runners-up in 1989 and Wilson was the Pacific-10 Coach of the Year. Oregon continued on to a 54-18 record, a No. 4 national ranking, and a fifth-place finish in their first-ever appearance in the College World Series. Wilson was named the NCAA Division I Coach of the Year. She began her coaching career as an assistant at Missouri from 1984 to 1985.
Her career on the softball diamond as a collegian at Missouri was equally impressive. From 1980 to 1983, Wilson set virtually every Tiger pitching record, including single-season standards for wins (32), strikeouts (297), innings pitched (296), shutouts (21) and winning percentage (.821). Mizzou advanced to the AIAW World Series her sophomore season in 1981 and then to the NCAA College World Series in her junior and senior campaigns. In 1983, she earned All-America honors while helping lead her team to a No. 4 national ranking and seventh place at the CWS, after finishing ninth the previous year. Wilson was named the Tiger Player of the Year and the Defensive Player of the Year in 1983, and she was inducted into Missouri's Hall of Fame in 1995.
A native of Pickering, Mo., Wilson earned a bachelor's degree from Missouri in 1984 in secondary physical education and journalism. She made the Dean's List at Missouri from 1982 to 1984 and the National Dean's List in 1984. She was honored with an NCAA Post-Eligibility Scholarship and named to Who's Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges in 1983 and 1984.
Wilson has been an active speaker at clinics around the Pacific Northwest, helping athletes make the transition from slowpitch to fastpitch. She also has spoken at clinics throughout the U.S. and Europe.