Deanna Gumpf

Head Softball Coach
University of Notre Dame

Warm-up


Favorite movie:
The Champ.

Favorite food: Mexican: Guacamole.

Childhood idol: Softball: Sue Lewis. Baseball: Will Clark.

Favorite non-sports hobby: Being a mom & supporting her kids.

Favorite Superstition: She only wears one visor the entire season, and it changes every year.


After graduating from Nebraska and finishing your collegiate softball career, you went to work at Delta Airlines. What was your thought process at that point in your life, and how did you end up back in softball?

I took the job with Delta because I knew I wanted to travel. I tried to travel every time I had a few days off. I went to Hawaii, Europe and all over. It worked out really well. However, I always stayed close to softball. While at Delta, I was also teaching pitching lessons on the side and had been since the day I graduated.

A couple years later the Head Coach at Long Beach State knew I was giving lessons in the area, and he asked me to be their pitching coach. It was an easy decision to take the job. That’s how I got back into the game.

What experience in your life has had the biggest impact on shaping who you are today?

In 2010, my four-year-old daughter was diagnosed with cancer. That completely changed who I was. Prior to her being sick, everything seemed more difficult. I took losses really poorly, I would get frustrated, angry and yell more often. Having this new perspective with her truly changed me to my core, and I am a completely better person for it.

Fortunately, my daughter’s battle with cancer was successful. She beat it. She’s doing really well now, and that has helped me. I don’t take things so seriously. The game is just the game, and a loss is just a loss. I can handle it. I have a lot more fun and am definitely a better person and a better coach because of that experience.

What are the fondest moments from your career?

I love when my alumni come back and we reminisce about old times. I love that they still love coming back to Notre Dame and that I am able to be a part of their experience. That means the world to me.

How has the coaching profession changed from when you started coaching 20 years ago?

The coaching profession has changed dramatically in many ways because today’s student athletes are more savvy consumers. They are well versed and have been well taught. They are looking for different things now. They ask more questions. It’s more about the experience, whereas when I first started, it was all about the game and being a great softball player. There is so much more to it now.

This generation wants to be a part of something great and to have a voice. That’s why other things in life matter to them. I give them a lot of credit for that. At the end of the day as coaches, we’re still looking for that same kind of young woman we were looking for 20 years ago; the one who will fight for her teammates, who you love to coach. That player is still out there, she’s just wrapped in a different package.

If you could travel back in time and give your past self some advice, what would you say?

In the game of softball, things are never as good as they seem, and things are never as bad as they seem. The reality is somewhere in the middle. I wish I could have understood that my very first year as a head coach. If I had, the highs and lows of the emotional roller coaster that is the coaching business would’ve been less dramatic. It’s nicer to live in a reality that you realize ‘we’re ok,’ even when things are tough. You’re going to go through tough times, but at the end of the day, you know you’re alright.