Emlyn Knerem is coming home.
The former Ashland University pitcher was named the Eagles' new head softball coach on Friday (June 9) by Director of Athletics Al King.
"I believe that in Emlyn Knerem, we have a rising star in the coaching profession," said King. "She did a terrific job in her interview, and the people I talked to in the profession rave about her vision and potential. She understands Ashland University and the legacy of this softball program, yet she's not burdened by tradition and afraid to venture into new territory.
"All of us involved in the search believe that's what this program needs."
"I'm thrilled," Knerem said. "I'm excited to come home and continue the tradition here and come back to my alma mater."
In her accomplished Ashland career in the pitcher's circle from 2009-12, Knerem set Eagle career records for wins (95), saves (11), games (148) and innings (834 2/3), and was second in strikeouts (1,106). She also authored five no-hitters.
Among Knerem's collegiate playing awards are a third-team College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) Academic All-America honor and Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Commissioner's Award in 2012, third-team All-American in 2012, second-team All-American in 2010, GLIAC All-Academic Excellence awards in 2011 and 2012, GLIAC All-Academic laurels in 2010, 2012 GLIAC Pitcher of the Year and four first-team GLIAC selections.
"As a student-athlete, Emlyn possessed a number of traits – exceptional athletic ability, intelligence, intensity and the ability to perform under pressure," King said. "Those skills should play for her as a head coach. Her poise under pressure and maturity level have always been outstanding, and those strengths will help her as she makes the transition from assistant coach to head coach."
Following her playing career, Knerem has been an assistant coach at Keystone High School (2012-13), Averett University (2013-14), West Virginia Wesleyan (2014-16) and most recently at NCAA Division I Kent State, which in 2017, earned its first NCAA Tournament appearance in nine years and won the Mid-American Conference Tournament.
"I've been able to have experiences at all different levels, and with different athletes," Knerem said. "Starting at Division III and moving my way up to Division I, I've gotten to experience three different programs and different coaches, so I've gotten to take things from each of those programs and really mold how I want to coach.
"And, obviously, I've taken things from Sheilah (Gulas) as well, in my playing experience."
Knerem inherits an Eagle softball program which has played in the GLIAC Tournament championship game each of the last two seasons. In 2017, Ashland was 30-23 overall and 13-9 in the conference.
"It's going to be exciting to see what we have and what we can do," said Knerem. "We just need that little extra push to win that game and move on. It's going to be fun to see what this team can do."
Knerem takes over for Gulas, who had guided AU softball for 21 seasons (1997-2017). Knerem is just the fourth Eagle softball head coach since the program went from slowpitch to fastpitch for the 1983 season, and just the third since 1986 (Karen Linder 1986-1996, then Gulas, now Knerem).
"I want to again thank Sheilah Gulas for what she's meant to this athletic department," said King. "She built a complete and highly-successful softball program. We were blessed to have her leading our softball program for over 20 years. Emlyn was part of that success, and we agree that one of best ways to honor Sheilah is to build upon the level of success she enjoyed."
Knerem is a 2012 Ashland graduate, majoring in Sport Management and minoring in Coaching and Business Administration. She is working on her Master's degree in Coaching Education online through Ohio University.