Shawn Rychcik grew up wanting to play for the New York Yankees. But that didn’t happen because he traded in baseball for fastpitch softball, a sport in which Rychcik (pronounced “RI-check”) had a storied career as a member of the U.S. men’s national team from 1994-2002. He was named the U.S. Olympic Committee’s Athlete of the Year in men’s softball in 1999 and 2000.
He took that success and rolled it over into a career coaching collegiate women’s softball, serving as head coach the last eight seasons at Boston University, where he led the Terriers to the NCAA Regionals and the America East Conference championship three of the last four years.
Rychcik’s pedigree as a player and coach breeds a self-assurance of inevitable success for Wolfpack softball as the team prepares for the ACC tournament, held May 10-12 in Tallahassee, Fla. NC State magazine sat down with him and learned that Rychcik entertains no other option.
Why he was a successful player: I was a really good hitter and smart player. I hit quite a few home runs in my day. I could run. I could throw. I could hit for power. I could hit for average. I wanted to be the best. If I didn’t hit .400 or .500 on a weekend, I was back at it on Monday afternoon.
Why he’s a successful coach: I’ve been on the national team and a part of world championships. And that’s the standard for myself. I know how to get there. …We were talking as a team [in the fall], and I said, “We’ll be better. We’ll be better because I’m here. Period. I’m here. I win.”
The style of his teams: I like to trust my teams to hit. I want to see if we can swing. Run and hit, trying to keep the pressure on. And, defensively, the plan is not to give anyone extra bases, extra runs. Get the ball back to the pitcher, and let the pitcher get the outs.
On coming from Boston to Raleigh: I think things move at a little slower pace than I’m used to in Boston. It’s probably how I like it and how I grew up [in New York state], but I’ve been away from it for ten years, especially living in Boston. I think that city hardens you.
What drives him: Being somebody was an expectation of myself. …My dad told me there’s a lot of good players out there. But how many great players are out there? So I was fueled by wanting to be more than just a good player. I knew to separate myself from people, I had to be great at something. The next step for me here is to be a great coach.