By Tom Nader
Publisher and Editor
A Windham Bomber is coming home.
Thomas VanKirk was recently named the new head coach of the Bombers’ softball program.
The 1987 Windham graduate had spent the last two seasons as a head coach at Garfield in 2021 and Mathews in 2022.
Both teams had success, winning league championships and combined to go 36-15 overall under VanKirk’s leadership.
Now, VanKirk is ready to work to duplicate that success with his alma mater.
“I am very excited and motivated to return to where I went to school and grew up to try to build a program we can be proud of,” VanKirk said. “This opportunity is especially special to me, since I am a Bomber.”
VanKirk inherits a team that he has seen from a distance over the last couple of seasons.
Players like Quinn Justham, Z’Naya Henderson, Na’Zya Henderson and Ka’neese Cunningham all of the possibility to be core pieces for the upcoming season, while Abby Simpson, Brook Collins, Lexi Goodwin, Aaliyah Madgett, Kyla Stanley, along with some incoming freshmen, will help round out VanKirk’s first group with the Bombers.
“I look forward to meeting them all and see what we have,” VanKirk said.
The players can expect a philosophy that focuses on being fast and fearless.
“I coach them to practice and play at full speed and to not be afraid to make a mistake,” VanKirk said. “I teach them the rules and situations, because smarter players that are prepared have confidence. Confidence translates into wins, but also a more fun, less stressful team.
“The biggest thing is to allow the players and coaches to own their roles and their team, collaborate and make everyone feel valued and important to the team goals and results.”
The philosophy has worked well for VanKirk, who has experienced plenty of success throughout his coaching career, which began in 2010 at the youth level, but also includes plenty of time on the travel circuits with the Ohio Outlaws, Lady Lookouts and Lady Warriors.
Ultimately, VanKirk is excited to begin work toward the expectations he has set for his program.
“We want to grow as a program, as coaches and as players to be a little bit better each day and each game,” he said. “Eventually, we want to put a banner up in that gym.”
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