Softball’s Beth Wallace Named Associate Head Coach

Since Wallace joined Loyola’s softball staff in 2019, the team has garnered 94 total wins.

Loyola softball’s head coach Alicia Abbott announced Sept. 26 that five-year assistant coach Beth Wallace would be promoted to associate head coach for the 2023-24 season. 

Since Wallace joined Loyola’s softball staff in 2019, the team has garnered 94 total wins and has had three seasons where their win percentage was .500 or higher. 

Wallace’s promotion comes after the team’s historic season where they made it to the Atlantic-10 conference championship game and were undefeated in all 14 of their home games.

Abbott has worked with Wallace throughout her time at Loyola and said she brings both relentless positivity and impressive effort to the program.

“I think there’s no denying that she wants what’s best for not only every single member of our team and our staff but really puts in the effort to make sure that she can help in any way possible,” Abbott said.

Wallace said she first became interested in coaching during her time playing at Western Illinois University where she studied kinesiology and exercise science from 2008 to 2011. During the school year, she would take the field for the Leathernecks, and during the summers she would coach a 12-year-old and under youth team through her third year. 

Following her fourth year, Wallace became a graduate assistant coach at Western Illinois. Though her first experience was with the 12u team, Wallace said coaching at the collegiate level is what really solidified her interest in pursuing coaching. 

Wallace spent seven years at Western Illinois in various coaching positions including assistant coach, interim head coach and head coach before leaving for Loyola in 2019. Wallace said both Loyola’s athletic program and Abbott were instrumental in her decision to join the Ramblers. 

“It was just a really good opportunity and the timing was absolutely perfect for my family,” Wallace said. “At the time, my husband got a job at UIC, and I was also talking with Coach Abbott about her and this position. I wanted a new opportunity and to try somewhere different, and just from coaching and recruiting with her all summer it just kind of seemed like the right place at the right time.”

Wallace’s time at Loyola has brought a new challenge of having to adapt to new players and coaching styles. Wallace said the athletes she’s coached at Loyola have been very analytical. She said she believes having to find new ways to explain concepts to these players has made her a better coach. 

Fourth-year center-fielder Teagan Sopczak said Wallace is someone the team can always go to, whether it be related to softball or their personal lives. Sopczak said Wallace makes it a point to check in on players, even instituting “Talking Thursdays” where she takes time out of practice to talk to the girls about how school and their week has been.

“Coach G [Wallace] cares a lot about us and takes it further than just a coach-athlete relationship,” Sopczak said. “She is very personable and easy to talk to, and she’s always encouraging. She has high expectations but in the best way possible. She’s a great person and we all love her so much more than just a coach.”

On the field, Sopczak said Wallace encourages her to always do her best and has impacted her substantially throughout her time at Loyola. 

“She’s done a lot to help me,” Sopczak said. “I just never doubted that she believed in me and I always can go to her for advice, to get a laugh, just things like that.”

Abbott said she believes Wallace’s ability to make herself available to players off the field has been a major driver of the team’s chemistry being so strong, which she saw as something that helped them achieve so much in last year’s season. 

“I think she’s done a great job of just cultivating really good relationships with our team, and they understand that she wants to see them get better every day and grow not just as softball players but as people,” Abbott said. “And I think that connection and that bond really helped bring everybody together.”

Last season, following the April 12 game against the University of Illinois at Chicago, Wallace stepped away from the field to take a maternity leave. Wallace said while it has been hard to balance being a new mother and coaching, she sees it as an opportunity for her daughter to grow up seeing her be both a mother and have a successful coaching career.

Abbott said one thing she admires about Wallace away from softball is her ability to be both a mother and a coach all while putting her full effort into both positions. 

“It’s such a cool thing to see a mom be a coach because I think she is such a good role model just for women, especially for our players,” Abbott said. “It’s not easy to juggle both things and give 100% right, but watching her be able to do that and like be a mom and be a coach is so cool and sets such a good example just for girls everywhere.”

Wallace credited part of her success in managing both positions in her life to the entirety of the softball department for being family-oriented and giving her a support system to be a mother and a coach. 

Wallace said all-in-all, her goal is to make sure the team has fun playing softball.

“I just want the girls to have fun and enjoy what they’re doing because they only have four years of this, sometimes five if they’re lucky,” Wallace said. “Always try to listen to the little girl inside your head that wanted to pick up a ball for the first time.”

Featured image courtesy of Steve Woltmann | Loyola Athletics

Amara Bullard

Amara Bullard