By David O'Brian
Binghamton Sports Information Office
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.