Jennifer McKibben Helps JUCO Players Reach DI Dreams

Jennifer McKibben

Create a free account to unlock this article!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In

The most difficult, gritty, and yet rewarding position in softball has to be the catcher. You get beat up for seven innings, your knees are killing you after the work is done, and you often get overlooked like an offensive lineman in football.

At the end of the day, though, there is no better feeling than seeing your hard work pay off. Sometimes you even get a moment in the spotlight if your pitcher has a great day in the circle or you contribute on offense.

The spirit of the catcher never left Jennifer McKibben, assistant coach at Pensacola State College in Florida. McKibben is full of energy and a zeal for the game. 

The former JUCO softball player made the most of her opportunity as a player. She started her playing career at Tallahassee Community College before finishing with Virginia Tech at the Division I level.

At the end of her career with the Hokies in the late 1990s, McKibben was named the defensive player of the year and MVP in back-to-back seasons.

Like any great catcher, she transferred those skills to coaching. So what makes McKibben stand out now and appear to be one of the future premiere names in college softball?

McKibben Committed To The Process

The ideal path to college softball success is being highly recruited out of high school, starting for four years at a major university, and getting to play in the Women's College World Series.

That storybook path applies only to a small percentage of players, though. For the rest of the successful softball players in the country, their story might start without a single scholarship offer. Yet their passion to play the sport they love keeps them in the game — often at the JUCO level.

McKibben not only understands that path to a successful college career, but she also embraces and cherishes that path. It allows her to apply her own journey to the next generation of players.

"Professionally, junior college softball is something that has always been in my blood, both since I played and then coached in it for so long," McKibben told the Mountain West Softball blog in a recent interview.

"It presents a healthy challenge that always keeps you satisfied that you are continually changing lives and helping players get to a level maybe no one gave them a chance to — whether it be athletically or academically or lost in the recruiting process. It's a passion to get these athletes better and better in all aspects of their lives."

Following McKibben's career path, you know that she's true to what she believes about helping under-the-radar players take advantage of a JUCO opportunity. She knows these players simply need a head start on college — and eventually their career. Or success at the JUCO level could lead them to a Division I program and even greater opportunities.

While other coaches in her position might be thinking about building up a track record of JUCO success stories solely to advance in their coaching careers, you get the sense that McKibben would be perfectly content coaching at the JUCO level until the next opportunity comes up down the road.

How Is McKibben Impacting Softball Players?

The Pensacola State College Pirates did not have a glamorous season in 2017, finishing 22-23 overall.

However, the season was a success with players advancing to four-year universities and one player, Kamber Anderson, getting unbelievable experience helping run the softball program behind the scenes.

Kamber suffered a major injury before her freshman season, but she continued with the PSC program as a student-manager for two years. McKibben understands the importance of that experience because of what it means for Kamber's future.

Kamber was forced to battle through adversity, which is exactly the type of player that McKibben loves to work with. It's part of that catcher mentality to enjoy a good battle.

As she described to the Mountain West Softball blog, McKibben is looking for a player who is "not afraid to get dirty, and someone who knows how to meet the moment in tough situations and through adversity . . . selfless players who understand it's always team and family first."

That approach is required at the JUCO level. a few players might be recruited to Division I, but for most players these two years represent an opportunity to grow athletically, academically, and professionally.

McKibben is a great resource to help today's players navigate the JUCO path and find great success. 

How far will McKibben's own career journey take her? She briefly dipped her toes in the DI coaching level as an assistant for New Mexico a few years ago. However, she returned home to Florida to continue coaching at the JUCO level.

She is home. Perhaps down the road there will be another DI opportunity as an assistant or head coach. One of the rising stars in softball coaching has the experience, know-how (because she's a catcher, of course!), and commitment to her players to go as far as she wants to go in this profession.

We'll see what's next in the years to come. For now, pouring into scrappy JUCO softball players away from the spotlight is where McKibben's focus is.



Written by James Caldwell

Texas' Miranda Elish Forgoes 2021 Softball Season Due To COVID Concerns

This Is Miranda Elish

Create a free account to unlock this video!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In

Texas senior pitcher/outfielder Miranda Elish announced that she will take the field in the 2021 season because of concerns about the ongoing pandemic. This news comes as a shock to many Longhorns fans who expected to see Elish this season.

Create a free account to unlock this article!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In

How Oklahoma State Softball Climbs Steadily Toward The Top

Oklahoma State Softball

During a recent staff meeting, Oklahoma State Director of Athletics Mike Holder was discussing the school’s spring season and the uncertainty that’s expected to come with it. At one point, he said something that particularly resonated with head softball coach Kenny Gajewski and his assistant coaches.

Create a free account to unlock this article!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In

Robby Wilson, NSR Scout Passes Away From COVID-19 Complications

null

Create a free account to unlock this video!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In

We are deeply saddened to report that Robby Wilson, NSR Director of Scouting passed away this morning around 3:30 AM after a hard-fought battle with COVID-19.

Create a free account to unlock this article!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In

How To Watch: 2021 Easton Invitational

Get The FloSports Apps

Create a free account to unlock this video!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In

Here's how to watch the 2021 Easton Invitational on FloSoftball.

How To Watch: 2021 Judi Garman Classic

Get The FloSports Apps

Create a free account to unlock this video!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In

Here's how to watch the 2021 Judi Garman Classic on FloSoftball.

2020 Voted Best Dressed Club Softball Teams

2020 Best Dressed Club Softball

The votes are in! See the Top 10 Voted Best Dressed Club softball teams of 2020 that include teams from North Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama, Illinois, and more.

Create a free account to unlock this article!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In

2020 Voted Best Dressed Division I Softball Teams

2020 Best Dressed DI Final

LSU reclaims the crown as Best Dressed Division I team of 2020 voted on by fans. See the top 10 results below of best dressed DI teams.

Create a free account to unlock this article!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In

Former Baylor Softball Assistant Coach Mark Lumley Dies After Cancer Battle

Mark Lumley

Mark Lumley, who helped Baylor softball make 13 NCAA regionals and four trips to the Women's College World Series in 20 years as an assistant coach, died at 1:45 a.m. Sunday, Dec. 27, after his fourth bout with cancer.

Create a free account to unlock this article!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In

How To Watch: 2021 Adidas JUCO Kickoff Classic & Showcase

Get The FloSports Apps

Create a free account to unlock this video!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In

Here's how to watch the Adidas JUCO Kickoff Classic and Showcase 2021 on FloSoftball.

Cast Your Vote For The Best Dressed Club Softball Team Of 2020

Get The FloSports Apps

Create a free account to unlock this video!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In

It’s that time of the year where we ask the fans to vote for their favorite uniforms of the year.

Create a free account to unlock this article!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In