ALBANY — There have been four head coaches in the past 13 months for the Darton State softball program, which was left unmanned again two months ago when Eric Neel left after one season.
Amber Miles plans on ending that trend and bringing stability to the Lady Cavs.
The junior college announced Miles as the new head coach on Thursday, and a day later the former Division I softball star told The Herald that she plans on sticking around a while in Albany.
“I told (Darton athletic director Mike Kiefer) that if you are hiring me, I am looking to do this and stay a while,” Miles said. “I can’t tell you it will be for 20 years, but I am looking to provide some stability and establish a program.”
The Lady Cavs are coming off a fourth Region XVII championship in the last decade, but the past year has been marked by instability and uncertainty at the head coaching position. The coaching carousel started 13 months ago when David Dews resigned to take a job at Lindsey Wilson College. Larry Willis held the post briefly during the offseason, and Neel was hired in January before stepping away in May. Lisa Williams and Glenn Eames also served as interim coaches during that span.
Miles said she’s not going anywhere soon.
“I think stability is huge for the players, the coaching staff, the athletic department but also for the community so they can say, ‘Now we have something that we can rely on for awhile,’” Miles said. “I think it’s huge for everybody all around to see that and put a face with a name for longer than a short period of time.”
Williams, a former Darton star who served as an assistant last year under Neel and has been running the program during the current hiring process, will remain an assistant with Miles. The duo have already developed a strong relationship.
“With her personality and the knowledge of the game she has, I think she will be a big asset to the team,” Williams said. “She is very positive about everything and definitely wants to help the team go in the same direction it’s been going in.”
Miles is a former standout center fielder and assistant coach at Louisana Tech and most recently served as an assistant coach and academic advisor at Division III University of Texas at Dallas.
This will be her first head coaching job and her first experience with a junior college.
“That will be a challenge,” Miles said, referring to switching to a two-year program. “But it’s a challenge I am looking forward to. There will be even more of a push to make sure our students in the classroom have top-notch grades and perform well on the field.”
Miles was an advocate for academics even as a player at Louisiana Tech and will stress that side of college athletics to her new players.
She also plans on building on the winning tradition already established at Darton.
“I love that fact that Darton is chock-full of tradition,” she said. “I’m a competitor, so I want to be a part of a program where they know how to win and know what it takes to win.
“When you have tradition you have to realize how you got there. You keep those aspects but you also add things so you can take it to an even higher level. That excited me from the get-go, to be a part of that and help to uphold that tradition.”