After over three decades coaching four sports at the collegiate level, Jim Overturf has decided to retire as head softball coach at Indian Hills Community College. Laura North, who joined the program as associate head coach prior to the start of this past season, was named to succeed Overturf.
“I just knew in my heart that it’s time to walk away after 32 years,” Overturf explained about the decision to end his coaching career that included two different stints at William Penn University, a year at both St. Mary’s (Minn.) and Iowa Western in Clarinda, and 14 years at the junior college level. Those 14 years were split evenly between Kirkwood CC and Indian Hills. He led both schools to the national tournament and put together a record of 482-253. In the past seven years at IHCC, his teams were 202-157.
Overturf said he feels fortunate to have coached so many great student-athletes and the trips to the national tourneys (he took the Warriors in 2010) stand out among his list of career highlights.
North is looking forward to building on the strong foundation that exists with IHCC softball saying, “I am excited to put Indian Hills back on the map as a national contender and focus my efforts on bringing in players and a coaching staff and creating additional support in order to get us there.”
North came to Indian Hills after spending three years as an assistant coach with the highly-successful softball program at Central College. She has previous head coaching experience, gained after graduating from the University of Nebraska at Kearney, where she was an all-conference player and inductee into the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame last year. North took a Cloud County (Kans.) CC team, which had won only one game the year before, to a winning record in her lone season at the school before she moved back to Iowa.
“We will be aggressive on both offense and defense,” the new IHCC coach said about her coaching philosophy. “We will make some mistakes, but as long as we are being aggressive, I like our odds.”
Getting to witness the level of play and type of athletes and programs that Indian Hills will face during the recently-concluded season, North said, was a good learning experience. “It is encouraging to know that with hard work and dedication we can quickly be a force in our region and district,” she said. “We have some work to do if we want to compete nationally, but, ultimately, the familiarity of the competition is nice to have.”
Both coaches talked about the fact that 12 players from this year’s IHCC team can return, and there are nine recruits already signed for next year. “Recruiting for me is never done,” North said. “We have a solid class coming back and I’m very excited about the incoming freshmen we have signed. But that doesn’t mean I can’t pick up a few good players between now and the start of our season next February.”
As for Overturf, he ends a coaching career that spans nearly 40 years, when you factor in the seasons he spent in the high school ranks. He coached volleyball, women’s basketball, baseball and softball at William Penn and joked that he’s old enough to remember when the Penn women’s athletic teams joined the Iowa Conference.
“All the coaches had to get together and develop the by-laws for softball and the conference,” he recalled. “That was a great experience because I was a part of history. I had a great career and I was able to coach at outstanding institutions that were all very supportive of the softball program.”
(release courtesy of IHCC Athletics)