WRUF Profiles

Jennifer Rocha: University of Florida Softball Assistant Coach

By on April 8th, 2014

Jennifer Rocha wasn’t aiming to be a coach. She played for the University of Oklahoma softball team for three years, before working for her Masters in Human Relations. She stayed on the team’s staff as a graduate assistant and then her career path took an unexpected turn.
 
“After I finished my Masters degree, at the end of the day my resumes for softball were being taken a lot better than my resume for any sort of social work so I got my first job at the University of Oregon,” says Rocha.

 
Before heading to Oregon, Rocha made a very important connection to Oklahoma Assistant Coach Tim Walton. Rocha worked for Walton on the Sooners staff for three years before he invited her to work with him at Wichita State University.
 
“When he got a head coaching job he asked me to come be his pitching coach, and it was an easy decision to go work with him,” says Rocha.
 
Fast forward 11 years and Rocha and Walton continue to work together.
 
“He knows what I’m going to do. He knows what pitches I’m going to call. He knows my work ethic. We can talk to each other with just one look now,” says Rocha.
 
The trust and bond Rocha has built with Walton is reflected by the trust she builds year after year with her players. The trust, says Rocha, is what leads to team success.
 
“I’m calling the pitches from the dugout and so I have a lot of trust in my catcher and in my pitcher. But when I call a pitch, I want them to be 100% behind that pitch. They always have the ability to say ‘no I don’t want to throw that pitch’, and I trust they are making a good quality decision,” says Rocha.
 
The trust philosophy has clearly worked for Rocha. Going into her ninth year in Gainesville Rocha has tutored four All American pitchers, and coached the Gators to the top team earned run average in the country twice.
 
This year Rocha continues to tutor Gators ace Hannah Rodgers. The senior righty is a three-time All-American, and has won over 100 career games.
 
“I think some of my proudest moments are just seeing our pitchers excel. Those things excite me when we see them be successful. We can work on something at practice, and when you see them execute it in the game – that fires me up. That gets me excited,” says Rocha.
 
Rocha says she only focuses on the next game, but a championship is her expectation for this season.


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