When it comes to the sport of softball, it seems that Linda Wells has, at some point, seen and done it all. Literally.
The most recent of her myriad of collegiate and professional athletic accomplishments is coaching the 2008 Dutch Olympic Softball team. She also coached the 2004 Greek Olympic team.
“Coaching in the Olympics is the pinnacle of coaching,” says Linda. “The entire experience is so memorable: the opening ceremony, the games, the village, the atmosphere. I feel very fortunate to have coached in two Olympics.”
She has also been on the coaching staff for Team USA softball in the Pan-American games, which included the thrill of a gold medal. She has an additional gold and three silver medals from international competition.
Linda graduated from Southeast Missouri State University in 1972 with a degree in physical education and minors in chemistry and biology. Amazingly, she also played on five different sports teams while at Southeast, including volleyball, basketball, field hockey, tennis and softball.
After graduating from Southeast, Linda immediately began graduate work at the University of Minnesota. She also began her coaching career there in the fall of 1972, serving as the head coach for women’s volleyball, basketball and softball. During her tenure as head coach, each of these three sports participated in national championship tournaments, and softball and volleyball won Big-10 championships.
Linda also played softball professionally from 1975-1993, receiving numerous all-star and most valuable player awards and an All-American award. In 1989, she accepted the head softball coaching position at Arizona State University and coached the Sun Devils to numerous postseason national championship appearances. She retired from ASU in 2005.
Linda has received a great deal of recognition for her accomplishments in athletics, both as a player and coach. She has been inducted into five different Halls of Fame, including the University of Minnesota Athletics Hall of Fame, the state of Minnesota Coaches’ Association Hall of Fame and the National Fastpitch Coaches’ Association Hall of Fame. She has also received the state of Arizona’s Outstanding Coach of the Year award and the Alumni Merit Award from Southeast. Then, of course, there are the two gold and three silver international medals!
In regards to her secret for success, Linda says she has had three traits that have served her well: persistence, loyalty and work ethic. She says it’s extremely rewarding having passion for a profession that is shared in a manner to impact the future of a young person.
Linda says she has many great memories from sports participation at Southeast, but some of her favorite times were spent with her sister, who was also attending Southeast.
“Feeding the ducks, enjoying a simple meal in the dorm together, being together, sitting in the stairwells and learning dance steps. My cousin Alan also was attending Southeast; we were always into some project or another,” she says.
“Southeast gave me a great teaching background. There were many role models who inspired me to pursue a career path in coaching. Most of the women were coaching and teaching in a pre-Title IX time, and it required many personal sacrifices to spur the women's program forward,” Linda says.
She recommends future Southeast students, “Take advantage of the unique opportunity to be part of the academic, social and community experiences of Southeast and Cape Girardeau. It is a great campus with many chances to expand beyond your major interest. See a play, go to a concert, attend some sporting events, join a club; be active and engage the opportunity. These are great years, and they go by fast. Engage the professionals as well as your peer groups.
“Whether it is sports, a hobby, travel, art or music, I think it is important to live with passion, so I hope they are finding passion in something. I also think that create your own meaning to life and people who give meaning to something find life richer in so many ways. So I wish for everyone that they create their meaning in their life,” she says.
Linda says she loves her free time in retirement, and she likes to fill her days spending time with family, hiking, biking, golfing and enjoying a good read with a coffee on the patio.
“I am a family person. Much of my time is spent with some part of the family. My friends joke that we travel in packs, and I guess we are always doing something together. I also enjoy friendships from all around the world,” she says. “I am taking my sisters to Europe this summer, and I’m sure I will continue to enjoy staying home as well as traveling throughout the world.”
Linda currently resides in Phoenix, Ariz.