“Well, I wish I wasn’t talking about it because I would have chosen to be coaching but walking across that stage is just the exclamation mark on something I thought I would never do,” remarked Hooks. “I wanted to miss graduation! My mind was locked in on softball and getting this team ready to make a run. This week wasn’t about me and what I accomplished, it was about our team and what we wanted to accomplish.” Lamar University’s head softball coach Amy Hooks accomplished that feat this season. Hired on in June to lead the Cardinals, Hooks was one year away from completing her master’s degree from Northwestern State University. In her first year as the Cardinals head coach, Hooks led LU back to the Southland Conference Tournament for the first time since 2017. The SLC Tournament was set for May 7-10 at, you guessed it, Northwestern State. “It was a special feeling. I spent countless hours on that field coaching, field prepping, winning, losing, and that community is like family,” stated Hooks. “Taking a job in the same conference, I knew I would be back and have to coach against them.” The Cardinals went into the SLC Tournament as the seventh seed in the SLC Tournament and opened SLC play against the sixth seed Northwestern State, the school Coach Hooks came from and was an assistant at for six seasons prior to coming to Lamar. “It was awesome! Getting the opportunity to at least coach this group for one more game was special,” remarked Hooks. “They worked extremely hard to earn a trip to the postseason and I was proud to be their coach.” Playing in the second game of the SLC Tournament, a single-elimination game, the Cardinals came up short as they were defeated by Northwestern State, 4-0, ending the Cardinals season. LU finished the season with a 23-34 record. Graduation for Hooks was set for Friday, May 10. The SLC Tournament Championship was set for Friday, May 10. If Hooks guided the Cardinals to the Championship game, she would have to make a choice, to walk for graduation or coach the Cardinals. “It was not easy by any means. I moved to a new city and I had to learn a new team, university and administration all on top of grad school which I was starting my internship portion,” remarked head coach Amy Hooks. “Our SWA Helene (Thill) was kind enough to be my mentor and allow me to do my internship with her. I wanted to make sure I gave everything I had to learn my team and getting them ready. So, there were a lot of late nights doing school work and early mornings preparing for softball.” Story by Travis Rae, Lamar Assistant Director of Media RelationsBEAUMONT, Texas – Being a first-time head coach is tough. Being a first-year head coach, completing your master’s degree and leading your team to the conference tournament, is even harder.