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UCF Softball Alumnae on Renee Luers-Gillispie

Gillispie Leaves for Iowa

Renee Luers-Gillispie. (Photo: Jim Hartsing)
Renee Luers-Gillispie. (Photo: Jim Hartsing)

Last Friday, it was announced that Renee Luers-Gillispie was leaving UCF to become the new head coach at Iowa. Since then, reactions have poured in from former players across the country. Many are excited for her new challenge at Iowa and grateful for the opportunity she gave them at UCF.

Here are some of the players who reached out with thoughts they wanted to make sure Coach Gillispie saw, knowing how much she has meant to them.

Samantha McCloskey (2013-2016)

Samantha McCloskey played at UCF from 2013-2016. (Photo courtesy of Samantha McCloskey)
Samantha McCloskey played at UCF from 2013-2016. (Photo courtesy of Samantha McCloskey)
  • AAC Tournament MVP (15), AAC Champ (14-15) NCAA Tournament participant (2014-2016).
  • Hit the walk-off home run to win American Conference Championship in 2015 title game vs. Tulsa at the UCF Softball Complex.

“Coach Gillispie,

Life is all about changes and new adventures and as it saddens me you will no longer be at UCF, I am so happy that you are headed back to your home state to coach at Iowa. You are an outstanding coach, woman, and leader. Playing under you was an absolute honor. Thank you for making UCF Softball my second forever family. It is because of you this program has evolved into what it is today. You are the heart and soul of this program. Thank you for the memories that I will cherish forever, thank you for the experiences that made me who I am, and thank you for the opportunities that led me to where I am today. Your legacy will live forever! I am forever grateful! Best of luck at Iowa.”

Kahley Novak (2012-2015)

  • UCF’s all-time Leader in Stolen Bases
  • Three NCAA Tournament appearances (2012, 2014, 2015)
  • Two American Conference Championships (’14, ’15)
  • Played in NPF with Dallas Charge (2015-2016)

“I can’t say enough words about the impact Coach G had on my softball career and my life. She believed in me. My favorite aspect of our relationship was our shared faith in the Lord. I grew closer to God because of Coach Gillispie and got to experience an amazing four years because of her leadership. This program is blessed to have had her as long as they did, and I am equally as blessed to have played under her for four of those years. Not only was she the best coach ever, but she has the biggest heart ever. Iowa is sure lucky to have a coach like her. She will be missed.”

Natalie Land (2009-2012)

Natalie Land (2009-2012)
Natalie Land (2009-2012)
UCF Athletics
  • Two-time NCAA Tournament participant (2010, 2012)
  • All-Region player.
  • 2nd all-time in stolen bases at UCF
  • Played on U.S. Women’s National Baseball Team.

“Coach had a phenomenal gift of not only seeing the player that stood in front of her but what that player’s full potential was. She brought in incredible, talented and like-minded people around her that pulled us all in the same direction. Personally, her confidence in me helped develop me as a leader. I truly felt like she trusted me on and off the field, which gave me confidence throughout my career.”

Allison Kime (2006-2008)

Allison Kime pitching at 2008 Gainesville Regional Final vs, No. 1 Florida.
Allison Kime pitching at 2008 Gainesville Regional Final vs, No. 1 Florida.
  • NPF Champion (2009)
  • All-Region (2007-2008)
  • C-USA Champ (2008)
  • Played in NPF (2008-2009) with Rockford Thunder

“Coach G meant a lot to me in my career. She gave me confidence and trust to go out there and perform. If coach puts you in the game, she believes you can get the job done. She is very caring and understanding, which is nice to have when you’re new to a team. Some coaches are very intimidating, but not Coach Gillispie. She was always very welcoming. Coach taught me to always believe in myself. There may have been moments in a game that I may have been struggling and she would come out to the circle to tell me I could get the job done and there wasn’t anyone else out there that she would want than me. Sometimes, as an athlete, you think you lost it, so it was nice to have a coach reassure you that you’re doing a great job.”

Mackenzie Audas (2012-2015)

Mackenzie Audas and Coach Gillispie on Audas senior day in 2015. (Photo courtesy of Jim Hartsing)
Mackenzie Audas and Coach Gillispie on Audas senior day in 2015. (Photo courtesy of Jim Hartsing)
  • All-American in 2015
  • C-USA Pitcher of Year in 2012
  • AAC Champ in 2014 and 2015
  • Three NCAA Tournament appearances (2012, 2014, 2015)

“I will forever be grateful that Coach Renee gave me the opportunity to play college ball. She believed in me when others didn’t and my time at UCF has undoubtedly shaped me into the person I am today. I know she will be missed by her Knights family but I wish her nothing but the best at her new position.”

Linnea Goodman (2014-2017)

Linnea Goodman (2014-2017) holds UCF’s school record with 5 hits in a 2017 win at Memphis. (Photo Courtesy of Jim Hartsing)
Linnea Goodman (2014-2017) holds UCF’s school record with 5 hits in a 2017 win at Memphis. (Photo Courtesy of Jim Hartsing)
  • NCAA Tournament Participant (2014-2016)
  • AAC Champion (2014-2015)
  • Plays on Sweden National Team. Played in European Championships in 2017

“As a 17-year-old girl coming to college for the first time, Coach G showed me how to be a strong woman in not only sports, but also in life. I strived to posses the compassion, confidence and humility that Coach G carries with her every day. Under Coach G’s guidance, UCF softball has created a legacy of incredible players and fearlessly strong women.”

Nikki Green (2002-2005)

Member of UCF’s 2005 A-SUN Championship Team

“Coach G, thanks for all the memories, thanks for believing in me, and thanks for being a good role model, coach and mentor. You changed my life! Good luck in your next endeavor/chapter in your life.”

Abby McClain (2008-2011)

  • C-USA Champion in 2008
  • NCAA Tournament (2008, 2010)
  • All Region Player
  • Native of Waterloo, Iowa

“I couldn’t be more excited for Coach Renee Gillispie and University of Iowa Softball program. As a fellow Iowan, I grew up watching the rich tradition of Iowa Hawkeyes Softball, and then had the incredible opportunity to play for Coach Gillispie where I am a proud alumna. Coach Gillispie took a very young program in UCF and turned it into a championship-caliber one that is now a force tobe reckoned with. With her years of coaching experience, succesful programs, energy passion, and drive, I have no doubt that Coach Gillispie and the Iowa softball program will be succcesful. And we will be watching them compete in the NCAA Tournament very soon. I know her new players are going to be as just as proud to have played under her as I am now.”

Sarah Miller-Dudley (2002)

Sarah Miller (#24) Photo courtesy of Sarah Miller-Dudley
Sarah Miller (#24) Photo courtesy of Sarah Miller-Dudley
  • Member of UCF’s inaugural softball team in 2002
  • Came to UCF from Des Moines, Iowa

“When I visited UCF in October of 2000 and met Coach Gillispie, I knew I wanted to be a part of the inaugural team and play softball for her. Even though I would be over 1000 miles away from home, it was comforting to know that I would have a fellow Iowan as a coach. Coach was positive about starting the program at UCF and I could tell she was passionate about the sport. I honestly felt like Coach truly cared for every single one of her players. It was an honor to play softball under Coach Gillispie and I am so thankful she took a chance on me!”