Former Harvard softball assistant coach Chrissy Schoonmaker will helm softball this upcoming season, the athletic department announced in a release Thursday.
During her time on staff for the Crimson, she helped lead Harvard’s virtual programming, placing a focus on team building and leadership development through core value study and while also contributing as a game analyst for the SEC Network’s softball coverage. Schoonmaker’s hiring comes just more than a month after former head coach Shane Winkler resigned from his position and became head coach of East Carolina’s softball program May 28.
“I am thrilled to join George Washington University as the next leader of the softball program,” Schoonmaker said in the release. “I look forward to meeting our extraordinary student-athletes and continuing to uphold a championship standard, both in the classroom and on the field competing for titles within the A-10 and beyond.”
Prior to her time at Harvard, Schoonmaker served as assistant director of development at South Carolina, focusing on fundraising efforts for the athletic department and founding the Women of South Carolina initiative, which has raised more than $1 million for Gamecock female athletes.
“Her plan is rooted firmly in her values and based upon an incredible background of diverse and successful experiences,” Athletic Director Tanya Vogel said in the release. “Her proven commitment to excellence will help our student-athletes pursue even higher levels of achievement, on and off the field.”
Schoonmaker spent five years at UConn from 2014 to 2019 as the first assistant and infield coach, while also performing scouting and recruiting duties. The Huskies set multiple program records in 2019 and also produced five All-AAC conference honorees.
Schoonmaker was on staff for Houston’s NCAA Tournament appearance in 2014, aiding the Cougars to a 33-23 record and an at-large berth in the Waco Regional. As an infield coach, she guided the team to a single-season program record for double plays and boosted the team fielding percentage by 12 points from the previous season.
She worked as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at Texas Tech in 2013, after two years as a volunteer assistant at South Carolina.
Prior to her coaching career, Schoonmaker was a four-year captain at South Carolina and member of two NCAA tournament squads. She was named to the SEC All-Defensive Team as a graduate student in 2008 and also received the Gamecock Inspiration Award, bouncing back after missing the 2007 season because of a broken neck endured in a car accident.
She sits second all time in Gamecocks’ program history with a career fielding percentage of .972 after starting in 176 games.
“Chrissy’s experience in the SEC, Big 12 and American Athletic conferences has prepared her for this day,” South Carolina Head Coach Beverly Smith said in the release. “She is a tireless recruiter with a passion to coach; she will be an outstanding role model for her student-athletes.”
During his three year stint at GW, Winkler amassed a 91-43 overall record and secured the first two Atlantic 10 championships in program history, sharing the title with Fordham in 2019 before claiming the first sole championship over Dayton this past season. The Colonials also took home the regular season title and advanced to the NCAA Championship for the first time.
Winkler, the former head coach, became the first Atlantic 10 Coach-of-the-Year in program history after leading the Colonials to a nearly undefeated 23-1 conference record last year. Under his guidance, 12 student-athletes nabbed all-conference honors including graduate student infielder Jenna Cone, A-10 Player-of-the-Year in 2019 and 2021, and redshirt junior pitcher Sierra Lange, the first Colonial to be named A-10 Pitcher-of-the-Year in 2021.
Schoonmaker will look to build on the Colonials’ recent run of successes into next season. Despite losing cornerstone pieces like Jenna Cone, Sidney Bloomfield, Faith Weber, Amber Lotz and Jessica Linquist, she will welcome back key veterans Lange and graduate student utility player Alessandra Ponce for another season as she takes over a program on the rise.