On May 17th the Concordia University Ann Arbor (CUAA) athletic department announced Hailey Cavanagh as the head coach of the Concordia Cardinals softball program beginning June 1st.
Cavanagh previously held the position of head softball coach at Lakeland University (NCAA DIII) in Plymouth, Wisconsin. She will join the Cardinal staff after five years at the helm of the Lakeland Muskies program where she helped to continually improve the team's record during her tenure.
"Coach Cavanaugh has a number of years of coaching experience that will be very beneficial as she takes over our established softball program," said Athletic Director Lonnie Pries. "Her attention to detail and passion for the game were obvious in the interview process and we are excited to have her lead our softball student-athletes."
Cavanaugh led Muskies to the NACC tournament in 2016 and guided 14 players to all conference honors. The Muskies prioritized academics under Cavanaugh's leadership with a total of 32 student-athletes earning All-NACC Academic honors. Cavanaugh also serves as the Head Softball coach for the USAAI (USA Athletes International) International Softball Organization.
"I'm excited to join the CUAA program and have the opportunity to continue with the program's rich traditions and elevate the program to the next level," said Cavanagh. "Concordia is a tremendous fit for me in both personal and professional reasons. Concordia is a beautiful, close-knit campus with strong academic majors which is something I really value as a coach."
Before her coaching career, Hailey was an esteemed student-athlete. Cavanagh played four years collegiately, including two years at the University of Dubuque (Iowa) before finishing her career at William Penn University in Oskaloosa, Iowa. Cavanagh was a team captain at both schools, and earned All-Midwest Collegiate Conference honors once and academic all-conference honors twice at William Penn.
Cavanagh received her bachelor's degree in psychology from William Penn in 2010 and a Master's in Business Administration from the University of Dubuque in May 2012. While earning her graduate degree in Dubuque, Cavanagh was a graduate assistant coach and head pitching coach for two seasons and served four months as interim head coach.
"I'm very excited to be here at Concordia, as the institution has so much to offer to its student athletes. The Cardinals went far in the postseason and return a really good core of players," said Cavanaugh. "I'm excited to get back to work this fall with both the returning and incoming group and build on their successes from this season as we battle to win a conference title for CUAA."
The newest member of the Cardinal athletic staff will inherit a team that made it deep into the WHAC tournament in their spring 2017 season, defeating both UM Dearborn and Aquinas before elimination. This was the first time the Cardinals had made it to the second day of the tournament since 2014. Although the team lost four players to graduation, Cavanagh will be able to lean on a successful group of incoming seniors next season. The Cardinals are returning five of their starting position players as well as their top three pitchers next year as Cavanagh will look to improve on the team's recent success.
"Hailey will be a great fit on our campus and in our athletic department. Her desire to lead a team in a Christian environment is exactly the experience we strive to offer," said Pries. "We are looking forward to having her serve our student athletes and help them grow not only as athletes but also as young women."
Cavanagh demonstrates and supports the mission of Concordia Cardinal athletics, encouraging and assisting student athletes academically in reaching their career goals, competing for conference and national championships, and above all, producing individuals of integrity who seek to put Christ first in everything.
Mikayla Hilton begins her first year on Coach Cavanagh's staff after recently graduating from Lakeland University. She was a four year varsity letter winner and majored in Sports Management with an emphasis in coaching and athletic administration. Hilton's versatility in the in-field allowed Coach Cavanagh to put her at 1st, 3rd, and OF while relying on a consistent presence at the plate. Hilton finished her career with a .324 batting average, 124 career hits, 70 RBI, 75 runs scored, 60 walks, and 31 multi-hit games. Additionally, Hilton ranks 2nd in Lakeland's career record books with 60 walks, 3rd with 27 doubles, and 7th with 124 hits.
"Mikayla is one of the highest IQ players I've ever coached," said Cavanagh. "To have the opportunity to coach her, and now coach with her is something special for me. I look forward to being on the same team again, and am excited to see how she'll lead our program and create a strong offense." Hilton's primary responsibilities will be coaching the offense while also serving as the first base coach.
Hilton will serve as the team's Graduate Assistant while pursuing her Master's degree in Concordia's Organizational Leadership and Administration program. "I have spent the last four years as a player for Coach Cavanagh and it's a dream come true to be able to take that first step into the collegiate coaching world and learn from her. The opportunity to be able to take the knowledge and experience I have for the game and be able to pass that along to others is so exciting. I have spent many years learning and growing as a player and individual, now it's my turn to help others develop and learn to become the best student, athlete, and person that they can be."
Mikayla can be reached at [email protected]