By Thomas Corhern, TTU Sports Information
When head coach Bonnie Bynum Graham needed to add two new assistants to the Golden Eagle staff, she found two that understand that history.
With that, the Tech softball team added Ashley Taylor and Carly Jo Van Auken to the coaches' roster.
Taylor comes to Cookeville after four seasons as the head coach at Centre College. While there, she led the Colonels to a 67-83 record, 33-44 in the Southern Athletic Association.
"I'm looking forward to the experience itself," Taylor said. "I understand the demands of being a head coach and everything that is expected, so I hope that I can give insight when the situation demands it and help Coach Graham behind the scenes."
As a former softball player at Austin Peay and a graduate assistant and assistant coach at Belmont, Taylor is very familiar with the success the Golden Eagles have had in the past.
"The tradition here is impressive," she said. "In my playing days, I remember what Tennessee Tech meant and I want to help bring the team back to that and help write a new chapter in its storied history."
Taylor has worked at many camps in the Southeast, including for Belmont, Austin Peay, Tech, Tennessee and Missouri, among many others.
She received her bachelor's degree in special education from Austin Peay in 2009, while earning her master's in sport administration from Belmont in 2011.
Van Auken spent the last two seasons as a graduate assistant with Piedmont College, where she coached hitting, infield and outfield, coordinated and worked with hitters, served as the team's recruiting coordinator and created practice plans and coordinated camps.
In her two seasons, she helped lead Piedmont to a 55-30 record with an NCAA regional appearance and two first-place finishes in the USA South Conference.
"I'm excited about the opportunity and ready to gain some new experiences," Van Auken said. "I'm also ready to don the purple and gold and get set to further my coaching experiences."
Van Auken is no stranger to working with Graham, serving as an instructor for three years with the Championship Softball camps.
"I plan on doing everything I can to help improve the team," she said, "as I try to expand my own coaching style and try to improve the coaching staff and the program."
As a student-athlete, Van Auken played at Kennesaw State, helping the Owls win an Atlantic Sun Conference regular-season championship in 2012 with 20 runs scored and 18 RBI. Following her playing career, she was a student assistant for KSU.
"I'm just ready to be back on the Division I level," Van Auken said. "Having that experience at Kennesaw, it's just a completely different level, so I'm looking forward to the challenges it presents as a coach."
In addition to those roles, Van Auken also was a staff member for Fastpitch Prep, writing blogs, providing lessons for younger athletes and assisting in camps run by the organization. She has also been an instructor for Premier Sports Services.
Van Auken received her bachelor's degree in psychology from Kennesaw State in 2015, then recently completed her MBA from Piedmont in July.
Photo credits: (left) Centre College | (right) Karl Moore, Piedmont College