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Coming Home

By David O'Brian
Binghamton Sports Information Office
dobrian@binghamton.edu

Twelve years ago, Michelle Burrell went of to college after graduating from nearby Owego Free Academy. She was an all-state shortstop in softball in high school and was recruited to play at the University of Maryland. Since then, she has tremendous success both as a player and coach. On June 16, she returned to her hometown to become the new head softball coach at Binghamton University.

Burrell arrived in Binghamton after a successful stint with the University of Rochester. She posted a four-year record of 117-50 (.701) and guided the Yellow Jackets to three consecutive NCAA appearances (2007, 2008, 2009).

At Maryland, Burrell was a four-year starting outfielder for the University of Maryland softball program from 1998-2001 She earned first team All-ACC honors and was named to the conference's all-tournament team as a senior. She was just as successful in the classroom, being named to the ACC Academic Honor Roll all four years. In 2002, Burrell was selected a member of the 50th All-Anniversary ACC Softball team.

After graduating from Maryland, she stayed on board with the program, serving as the top assistant coach and recruiting coordinator from 2002-05.

Since returning to the Binghamton area one month ago, Burrell has hit the ground running. She did, however, take time out of her busy schedule to discuss her new position, her vision for the Binghamton program and several other topics:

Q: Talk about what you have been doing your first month on the job as the Binghamton softball coach.

A:
I can't believe it has already been a month! I've spent the majority of the time out recruiting and traveling to different showcase tournaments. I've been to tournaments in Colorado, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland and New York. I've also had some unofficial visits which has helped me get familiar with campus rather quickly. I've met with many of the current players as well as incoming freshmen and am anxious about getting to work with them on the field in the fall. I've also met with the support staff and have been getting familiar with the athletic department. I'm getting ready to hire a staff that I'm very excited about that will bring a lot of knowledge and experience to the program.

Q: What excites you the most about becoming the head coach at Binghamton?

A:
I'm excited to be a part of the entire University and the athletic department here. We've got some outstanding facilities and the construction of the new softball field will help with our recruiting efforts. Obviously, being from this area it is exciting to be able to come back home and coach at this level.

Q: What are your initial goals for the Binghamton softball program?

A:
My initial goal will be to get the program headed in the right direction, see success, and build on that. My goal will always be to win our conference and continue on to post-season play. We are looking to bring in a strong 2010 recruiting class that will be able to make an impact right away. I'm looking forward to building around the team that is here and working hard this fall to get prepared for the spring season.

Q: What do you feel your biggest strengths are as a recruiter and as a
coach?

A:
I put a lot of time into recruiting because I want to bring in athletes that are going be a part of our program for four years. We'll be spending a lot of time together over four years so I want to make sure the student-athletes that are coming in are going to be committed to the program and have the same goals as the coaching staff.

Q: Talk about your experiences growing up in the Binghamton area and
playing for Owego Free Academy.

A:
I grew up playing baseball in Owego. I was one of two girls in the entire league and didn't think I would ever play softball. The first softball team I played on was the Apalachin Patriots and then I went onto play for the STPS Ponies for 18 and under. I had some outstanding coaches growing up and am very grateful for all the time they put into coaching me. We had a really talented team when
I was at OFA and I was fortunate enough to have teammates that I had played travel ball with and also went on to receive Division I scholarships.

Q: You were fortunate enough at Maryland to play for and coach under Gina Lamandre, a highly successful and respected Division I coach. What impact did she have on your career both as a player and as a coach?

A:
Gina was a tremendous coach. She was very knowledgeable about the game
but always kept it simple when we were on the field. She was always fair and upfront with her players and I really respected that. It wasn't just about softball for her... she really cared about our futures beyond softball and college. I will always be grateful to Gina because she gave me my first opportunity to coach. When I graduated from Maryland I was unsure about my plans and she convinced me to stay on with the program.... and I've been coaching ever since!

Q: What were some of the keys behind the success you had as the head coach at Rochester?

A:
I had the pleasure to work with some really great student-athletes and had a tremendous assistant coach. I was really lucky because I was surrounded by people that wanted to work as hard as I did to be successful.

Q: Talk about the level of high school talent both locally and in New York State.

A:
There is some great talent in New York and my hope is that we'll be able to bring in some of the top talent within the state. There are some well established high school programs around the Binghamton area and throughout the entire state. I'd like to have a good mix of talent from both in state and out of state. The important thing for me will be to find good fits for our program.

Q: What points of pride do you emphasize with recruits about the kind of
education and athletic experience they will receive at Binghamton?

A:
Binghamton is a fantastic school academically and it is a University that offers a great all around experience. It has a great campus setting, is an ideal size, and has a wide variety of academic offerings. The athletic programs have been very successful recently and the facilities for the student-athletes here are very impressive.

Q: Talk about your coaching philosophy.

A: Everybody always asks this question and I'm never quite sure how to answer. People usually want to know if I ever yell because I'm usually pretty calm on the field. I have always believed that the amount of preparation you put into something correlates with your level of success. If we have the coaches, student-athletes, and support staff that is willing to put in the work then we'll reach our goals.

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