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02/10/2021 11:00 PM

Eichler Named New Head Coach of Hand Softball

Program alum Caitlin Eichler will make her debut as head coach of the Daniel Hand softball team this spring. Caitlin, a Clinton resident, has spent the past decade as head coach of the Westbrook softball squad. Photo courtesy of Caitlin Eichler

There’s a new coach in town for the Hand softball team, and it’s a face that the Tigers are surely familiar with. Caitlin Eichler, a 2002 Daniel Hand High School graduate and former softball player for the Tigers, is back at her alma mater and excited to take the reins of a growing program.

Caitlin was recently named the head coach of the Hand softball team. A Clinton resident, Caitlin is slated to make her debut as the Tigers’ coach during the 2021 spring campaign.

“The goal of any athletic program is to prepare our athletes for a physically, mentally, and emotionally competitive season,” says Caitlin. “Through the completion of various fielding, throwing, hitting, and running drills, each player will continue to improve the essential skills needed to play this sport at the highest level. In order for each athlete to reach her potential, working hard every day is expected.”

After Caitlin graduated from Hand in 2002, she went on to play softball for the University of Hartford as a pitcher. Caitlin graduated in 2006 with a bachelor’s degree in English and secondary education and then obtained her master’s in education from Saint Joseph’s University, graduating in 2012. Caitlin is currently in her sixth year working in educational administration at Sacred Heart University. She has also been coaching the softball pitchers at the University of Bridgeport for the past five seasons.

Caitlin is aiming to use all of her experience on the diamond and in the classroom to the Tigers’ benefit as Hand’s head coach. While playing for the Tigers, Caitlin helped the team finish with an overall record of 23-1 on its way to winning the Class L state championship in 2001.

“Although the athletes will experience different levels of success throughout the year, the main objective for each athlete is to make improvements along this athletic journey,” Caitlin says. “Putting forth maximum effort every day and tracking each player’s progress throughout the season will help our team reach its full potential.”

Caitlin has spent the last 10 years as head coach of the Westbrook softball team. Caitlin instilled a culture of hard work and a love for the game in all of her players with the Knights. Now, she’s looking to carry over that philosophy to the Tigers’ dugout.

“Coming from a small town with limited numbers of student-athletes, we were able to make states a number of times during my tenure, which is a testament to the hard work the student-athletes put in every day at practice,” says Caitlin. “As a former graduate of Daniel Hand and a member of the softball team, I am looking forward to sharing my knowledge of the game with this group of talented players and building upon the progress they have made throughout the years.”

When she saw that the softball coaching position at Hand had opened up, Caitlin knew there was no place she would rather be.

“[Hand] has always held a special place in my heart,” Caitlin says. “When this position became available, I could not pass up the opportunity to return back to the place I called home and be a part of the strong Hand tradition.”

Although the spring season is still several weeks away, Caitlin feels eager to meet the players on her team. The Tigers’ captains for the 2021 campaign are seniors Grace Hartmann and Abby Cody.

“I am looking forward to working with all of the athletes this season. While I have not had the opportunity to get to personally know any of the players yet, I am looking forward to developing relationships throughout the season,” says Caitlin. “I do know that this team is in great hands with the two senior captains, Grace Hartmann and Abby Cody. Their coaches and teammates think highly of them and believe they will continue to lead the team in the right direction. I am excited that there is strong talent on this team and in the younger grades, which will contribute to continued success in the future.”

Softball has always been a big part of Caitlin’s life. After enjoying a nice career on the field, Caitlin made it her goal to pass on her knowledge of the game to the next generation of players, just like the coaches that she played for did her for.

“My goal is to help shape athletes in a positive way,” Caitlin says. “I was blessed to have amazing coaches throughout my career and want others to experience that as well. I cannot thank my All-Star coaches Ray Ezell, Lance Coderre, Ken Conlon, Jen Hapanowicz, Dom Vuolo, and Deb Thomas for helping to shape me into the person and coach I am today.”