New faces flood athletic department

Tony Schifano, new Head Coach of the Gators’ baseball team, poses for a portrait at SF State baseball field Monday, Aug 24, 2015. (Qing Huang / Xpress)

The moving boxes sat freshly unpacked in the offices of three recently-hired SF State head coaches after a busy summer of personnel decisions for second-year Athletic Director Charles Guthrie and the SF State Athletic Department.

Softball coach Lisa Allen, baseball coach Tony Schifano and women’s soccer coach Tracy Hamm were off-campus acquisitions for their respective programs. Women’s track coach Kendra Reimer added to her duties by assuming control of the women’s cross country team from coach Tom Lyons, rounding out the list of off-season coaching turnovers.

Hamm took the reins of the women’s soccer team after Jack Hyde, head coach for 32 years, stepped down. Allen and Schifano replaced Cristina Byrne and Mike Cummins, who served six and five years, respectively, at the helms of their former teams. Guthrie and the SF State athletic department declined to comment on the terms of the University’s separation from Byrne and Cummins.

Tony Schifano, new Head Coach of the Gators’ baseball team, poses for a portrait at SF State baseball field Monday, Aug 24, 2015. (Qing Huang / Xpress)

Tony Schifano, new Head Coach of the Gators’ baseball team, poses for a portrait at SF State baseball field Monday, Aug 24, 2015. (Qing Huang / Xpress)

Guthrie stressed a commitment to the student-athlete experience and a history of successfully recruiting impact players as the principal criteria utilized in evaluating prospective coaches. Interviews were conducted on campus and involved student-athletes, program stakeholders, administrators and numerous members of the SF State athletic department.

“I think the SF State community will see our programs energized by our new coaches’ dedication to success,” Guthrie said in an email. “New coaches can certainly shake a program up initially, but long term success is about the fundamentals. Our vision is for long term, ongoing success, so I’m not as interested in an immediate shake up as I am a longer-term shift to consistent success year over year.”

SF State’s nation-wide search for new coaches attracted more than 100 applicants for softball and more than 300 for baseball, according to Guthrie.

For Schifano, the commitment of both Guthrie and SF State President Leslie Wong in supporting the athletics department at all levels made the University an appealing place to work.

“The San Francisco State that I knew was the one that I remember as a player at UC Davis many many years ago,” said Schifano, who served as an assistant coach at his alma mater before coming to SF State. “So, I wanted to see the direction the program, the school and the University were going. In my research, I saw that everything was moving forward. I can’t speak to the past, but I feel blessed to have the opportunity to be a part of this program.”

Schifano also said he noticed in his first few weeks on campus that the new faces had sparked “a lot of great energy,” a sentiment that was echoed by Reimer, who is entering her second year on staff.

“There’s a lot of young, go-getter coaches coming on, and I think it’s a great thing for the University,” Reimer said. “I think it says a lot about Charles’ leadership that they’re attracting all of these great coaches from around the country. It shows so much promise of what our school has to offer and where we’re going.”