It’s all about philosophy, experience and the pride in fans' eyes for Missouri's new softball coach.
Larissa Anderson, newly hired after a lengthy stint at Hofstra, comes to the Tigers' program preaching strong work ethic and core values — traits that encouraged Missouri athletic director Jim Sterk to bring her to Columbia.
During MU's coaching search after the sudden firing of Ehren Earleywine, Sterk had an image in his mind of the type of person he wanted in the position. From the moment the search began, Sterk said, Anderson, who is 42, was on his radar.
“Right away, as we were looking, they (Hofstra) were having great success, so we were tracking that, as well as the type of people we were looking for,” Sterk said during Anderson's introductory news conference Thursday afternoon. “She accomplished a lot with probably a lot less resources than what she has here.”
Anderson on May 26 agreed to a five-year contract with an annual base salary of $185,000, with another $166,000 to hire two assistants. She replaces MU interim coach Gina Fogue, who took over following Earleywine's ouster shortly before the season began. The Tigers finished 30-29 this year and played in their 12th straight NCAA regional but didn't get to participate in the SEC tournament they hosted in Columbia — their 6-17 SEC record was last in the league.
Upon meeting Anderson for the first time in Hempstead, N.Y., Sterk said, he noted the attitude and persona of this woman who had built a head-coaching record of 130-73-1.
“The type of person, the tenacity, the fearlessness,” Sterk said. “It’s a can-do, winning attitude, and she’s going to hold her kids and her staff accountable. She’s going to be someone that people love to play for.”
Soon after Sterk's trip to Long Island, Anderson arrived in Columbia for a visit of her own. Walking around the MU campus and meeting more of the athletic department staff, she said she knew she wanted to coach in the SEC, and at Mizzou.
“I envisioned it, I dreamed it," she said. "I didn’t know if it was always going to happen — you always wish it would happen. And then I got that first phone call and I said, ‘This is for real.’ It’s pretty special; I didn’t expect to happen directly from Hofstra.”
In total, Anderson spent 17 years at Hofstra, the last four as head coach and the previous 13 as an assistant.
"I’ve worked under amazing leadership," she said. "I’ve coached amazing players, and we’ve won, we’ve won a lot, so I’m proud of what we accomplished at Hofstra. I had no reason to leave, but when your dream lines up with your opportunity, you know when it’s time and you know when it’s right.”
Anderson led Hofstra to two NCAA Tournaments as head coach and posted seven wins over opponents that were nationally ranked at the time. During her first year in charge, she and her staff were named the National Fastpitch Coaches' Association's Northeast Region coaching staff of the year.
Now, her attention turns to the Show Me State's flagship university. Anderson is making the rounds with players who are set to return next season. Senior Kolby Romaine was among the first. She and two teammates, Paige Bange and Danielle Baugmgartner, took a road trip to Oklahoma City recently to meet Anderson at the Women’s College World Series. Visiting with her for a quick five minutes, they were excited by what they saw.
Romaine is relieved the team has a permanent head coach again.
“That’s honestly the biggest relief through the whole thing," Romaine said. "Especially with my four years, stability is something that is going to help the team."
Anderson is the daughter of self-employed parents who owned two restaurants. She watched them work 80 hours per week in Lake George, N.Y., and admired their effort.
Now, she aims to bring a similar tenacity to Mizzou.
"If you want something, you work for it,” she said.