July 12, 2012
RALEIGH, N.C. – Last Friday, NC State athletics director Deborah A. Yow hired Boston University softball coach Shawn Rychcik to be the second head coach in the history of Wolfpack’s fast-pitch softball program. After leading the Terriers to three NCAA regionals in the last four seasons and winning a total of seven America East Conference regular-season and tournament titles in eight years, Rychcik is looking to develop a similar success for the Pack. He’s still tying up some loose ends in Boston, but will arrive in Raleigh next week to begin building his program. Until he arrives, here’s a short conversation that details what Pack fans can expect from the school's newest head coach.
Q. What are the first steps you have taken so far in taking over the program?
A. I know what the picture is and what we want to do; now I am just trying to get there so we can get started on it. I will work day-by-day, plan out each week and going from there. I’m making some recruiting calls this week, coming down to Raleigh next week for a few days and then get back to recruiting on Friday through the weekend.
Q. What do you want Wolfpack fans to know about Shawn Rychcik?
A. I would like for them to know that I’m hard working and that I’m going to do everything we can do to win. That’s why I am coming down there. Everywhere I have been, I have been a winner, whether it has been my playing career or my coaching career. We will try to turn things around and get on a winning track this year. I know change takes time, but I want to get going on it right away.
Q. What have you discovered about the players that are returning next year?
A. I think we are set on the incoming 2012 class, which has some pretty good talent in it. I’ve been talking to the returning players and trying to get a list of what the team’s shortcomings were and how we should address them. For any team, you need to have good pitching. That is something we will work with and try to make better. I think there is a lot of talent in the program and maybe just some different ways of doing things will help.
Q. Do you have any immediate changes you plan to implement?
A. I always like to have a strong defensive team, and for the most part that looks like it was a strength last year. I guess the main thing I need to do is get there, see what the style, the strength and the fundamentals of the players who are returning and see what we need to do this fall. We can work on it from there. Offensively, we will probably be a little more aggressive. I like to run a lot, even with non-traditional base stealers. I like to put people in motion during certain counts, with certain hitters at the plate. I like to put as much pressure on the defense as I can, by putting people in motion and getting bases open. There are some options we can do with pitching, trying to switch things up four or five innings into the game, to give batters a different look. We did a lot of that last year up here because of injuries and it worked very well for us.
Q. Do you have a particular style you like that defines the way your team plays?
A. I think each coach has a different style. Some like to run exclusively. Some like to sit back and build on power. I like to do a little of both. I like to stay aggressive and put pressure on people. Sometimes we will have runners thrown out stealing or taking an extra base. Usually, it’s when we have leads or are tied. I like to push the other team to execute. I would rather see a more reckless offense and a more conservative defense, where you give them a single, but don’t try to make a big play by throwing it away at first base and putting them into scoring position. You have to be careful with the ball, and get it back to the pitcher as quickly as you can. We want to create as many runs as we can on offense, without giving anything away on defense.
Q. What most attracted you to NC State?
A. There are so many things: the school’s reputation, the possibilities there, with the resources, the conference, the weather and the recruiting area. There are so many opportunities there for student-athletes. For me, I think the opportunity to recruit in state, with local talent, is greater down there, and that’s very appealing to me. I think for my family, it will be different, with a slower pace of life. The ability to get around, have my family involved with the university community and the potential to win. I have been able to win here. I am ready to take my talents to the next level. The opportunity to get to a Super Regional or to the World Series is there at NC State. I’m not sure what the cap is here in Boston, but I think there is no cap at NC State and that’s what I’m looking forward to.
Q. How do you translate being a high-level player to being a high-level coach?
A. The game is the game. There are some things the men are going to be stronger at, and there are some things women are going to be better at. But it all starts with great pitching. That’s something we’ll start working on immediately and address down the road with recruiting. I know that is the most important part. I know the reason I was a good player was that I worked hard, I paid attention and I became a student of the game. The more I teach our players what we have to do and why we have to do it, the more they will buy into the program.
Q. What did you take most from your conversations with the returning players?
A. The conversations have been pretty general so far. I have heard people mention that they are open to change and that they want to win. They know they might have to do some different things and they are willing to do them, if they help us win.
Q. What do you think about the facilities here?
A. It will be so nice to have a stadium to be our home. We have a very nice field here in Boston where we play, but it’s not the same as having a stadium to call home and to recruit to. Hopefully, we can fill the stands and make people want to come out and watch the games. It’s a pretty big yard, so I might have to make some changes in the players I recruit. There will probably be a lot of extra-base hits, but not as many homers as I am used to. We need to get some speed in the outfield to cover the yard.
Q. You were born in New York and have lived the last eight years in Boston. Are you ready for the South?
A. I think so. I have lived in every region of the country. I’ve adjusted to most places I have been pretty well. I am ready to call it home.
Q. What do you think about barbecue?
A. I love it. I am not afraid to get a little sauce on my chin. And I am always ready to dig into a big pile of ribs.