College of Education alumna
Chris Steiner-Wilcoxson was a three-year starter and two-time team captain during the Auburn softball program's first three seasons in existence, during which she also earned her physical education degree. Steiner-Wilcoxson hit the first home run in the Tigers' softball history and closed her playing career in 1999 by leading the team in at-bats, triples and stolen bases. After graduation, she pursued coaching to pass on the skills that had been taught to her.
Steiner-Wilcoxson recently completed her sixth season as head coach of the Auburn Montgomery softball team with an NAIA National Championship win, something she said she's always wanted for the program and her players. Steiner-Wilcoxson was hired as AUM's first head softball coach in 2009 and during her tenure has won at least 30 games in every season. Prior to being head coach for AUM, she coached for Eufaula High School in Alabama, Palmetto High School in Florida and Reinhardt College in Georgia. Overall, she has won nearly 60 percent of her games coached throughout her collegiate coaching career. Steiner-Wilcoxson is the proud parent of three children, Easton (named after the bat manufacturer), Auburn (named after the school) and Rylee, who are all involved in sports.
1. What attracted you to Auburn, the academics or playing Division I ball?
I grew up an Auburn fan, and my aunts, uncles and great aunt went to Auburn. It is very much a family tradition, and I just wanted a chance to play the sport I love at the school I grew up loving. I knew Auburn would be able to offer me the opportunity to play softball, be a part of its history and get a degree so that I could continue my sports career after playing ball. I am so thankful and so lucky to have had the chance to live my dream.
2. What was it like being hired as AUM's first head softball coach? Did you feel a lot of pressure or none at all because you were the first?
I was so excited and very honored that AUM had finally decided to start a softball program and so glad they chose me. It was an opportunity to get back into the state of Alabama and stay connected to the school I love. It was very intimidating at first because all the sports at AUM were so competitive and have won numerous conference and national championships. I just didn't want to let them down so I challenged myself to build a competitive program from the ground up, one that would compete and live up to the athletic department's standards.
3. What is your favorite memory from this year's season, besides winning the National Championship?
That feeling clinching a spot in the championship game was so amazing because all the games were so close and so competitive, but that feeling in the seventh inning: you have two outs and then two strikes and then that third out and all your emotions just take over. Your dreams and everything you have worked for have just become a reality. "Oh my God! This just happened. We just won." It's an amazing, unbelievable feeling. I still can't believe it happened with all the adversity this team had this season.
4. You hit the first home run for Auburn's softball program. What types of emotions ran through you during that game?
I wanted to be remembered for something. I wanted to have that history, that tie, that connection to Auburn and to the Auburn softball program. I wanted to contribute something and create that memory that would last a lifetime for me, my family and my children. It was a great feeling. The first one I hit was actually foul and then I came back and the next pitch, hit it to center field. It is one of my proudest moments and fondest memories as an Auburn Tiger. I couldn't believe it. It was a great feeling and helped us win our first tournament.
5. What advice do you have for student-athletes?
Being a student-athlete is a lot of hard work and dedication. It is a lot of sacrifice and heart. It is one of the most rewarding things a person can do. I loved every minute of it and loved all my coaches and teammates. It is a great opportunity for athletes to get to college and have a chance to get a degree, and help them finance school. I would tell those that really have a chance to play at the college level you've got to start with school and your academics, and then you've got to put forth the work ethic to practice and play. It's a great opportunity, but you have to work hard for it.