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Thursday, June 25, 2009

New KU softball coach introduced

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Career glance

Born: Walkertown, N.C.

Husband: Paul Buske (married June 19, 2004).

Children: Son Cooper Buske (born Aug. 6, 2007).

Coaching career: 2000-01 — Head coach at Young Harris.

2002 — Assistant coach at Charlotte.

2003-2005 — Assistant coach at North Carolina.

2006 — Head coach at Western Carolina.

2007-09 — Asst. coach at LSU.

Four years ago, when Western Carolina inaugurated an intercollegiate softball program, the school tapped new Kansas University coach Megan Smith for the start-up job.

During that spring of 2006, the Catamounts compiled a 41-20 record, won the Southern Conference championship and Smith wound up as the league’s coach of the year.

“She was in a unique position of starting a program from scratch,” said Debbie Van Saun, senior woman administrator for Kansas Athletics Inc. “What she did at Western Carolina says volumes.”

On Wednesday, Kansas Athletics Inc. made the official announcement of her hiring. The Journal-World had reported Smith’s appointment last Friday.

An aide at Louisiana State for the last three years, Smith replaces Tracy Bunge who retired in May after 13 seasons as head of the KU softball program.

“She has leadership qualities that came out in interviews,” Van Saun said of Smith, “and she has considerable experience as a Division One assistant coach, and as a head coach.”

A native of Walkertown, N.C., Smith had moved to WCU from North Carolina, her alma mater, where she was an aide for three years after spending a year as an assistant at Charlotte. Smith began her coaching career at Young Harris College in Georgia where she was head coach for two seasons (2000-01).

As a senior for the Tar Heels in 1999, Smith was team captain and, while playing primarily at third base, was named UNC’s defensive player of the year. She earned a bachelor’s degree in sports science and recreation administration at UNC and, a year later, added a masters degree in human performance and sports studies from Tennessee University.

Smith and her husband, Paul Buske, have a son, Cooper, who will turn 2 in August. Currently en route from Baton Rouge, La., to Lawrence, she is scheduled to take over as KU’s head coach on Friday.

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