This spotlight features Tatjana Matthews, head softball coach for Mississippi University for Women’s Lady Owls. Matthews, affectionately known as “Coach Tot,” is originally from Charleston, S.C. and started the position in January 2017. Matthews has a lifetime of wisdom and experience to guide her and the team through this experimental season ahead.
Q: Where all have you played softball?
A: I played at Fort Dorchester High School, then at Francis Marion University, a Division II school, for three years before transferring to finish my career at Charleston Southern University, which is a Division I school.
Q: How did you know about the coaching position?
A: The NCAA has a database that you put your resume and information into and then it will notify you when a position is posted that you may be interested in.
Q: Why did you choose The W?
A: I was really excited to bring back the history of athletics to the campus. It was an amazing opportunity that is very rare to find and can’t be passed up. I was wowed when I first came to campus.
Q: When did you know you wanted to be a coach?
A: My junior year of college some things happened, and I needed a change. I switched from pre-med to pre-law and got a master’s in Criminal Justice. I like the teaching aspect of coaching, so teaching is my backup plan when I get too old to be a coach.
Q: What events in your life led you to this point?
A: I wasn’t ready to give it [softball] up. I’ve had some great coaches and some not-so-great ones. I wanted to give back to the sport that gave me so much. I decided I could do this. I want to impact lives and teach life lessons, not just softball.
Q: Would you rather coach a high school or college team?
A: I definitely want to stick with college. I don’t think I could go down to high school girls. They say that your high school years are the most impressionable, but college is where you really discover who you are. I get to help these girls figure that out.
Q: Who/What inspires you every day?
A: My family does. I have a very supportive wife and two young sons. I want to be a role model for my boys and players. My players also inspire me; I wouldn’t get to do any of this without them.
Q: What are your goals for this year?
A: Of course I want to win, but more than that I want to build a respectable program. We want to first win in the classroom. I want to get the Owls’ athletics name on the map. I and the baseball coach have an ongoing competition to see which team will have the higher GPA percentage and the higher winning percentage. I want everyone to see that this is not about me. It’s about the girls.