Bringing coaching experience from all levels of college softball, Karen Yoder enters her 10th year as head softball coach at UC Davis.
In addition to upholding the program's long-standing commitment to academic excellence, the 2010 Big West Coach of the Year has turned Aggie Softball into a championship-caliber program since its transition from Division II to Division I competition. Under her tutelage, 33 players have received all-Big West Conference honors, including 16 first team selections. Two Aggies recruited by Yoder received Big West Pitcher of the Year accolades; another two were named conference Freshman of the Year.
Prior to the Aggies move to the Big West, six players were named Division I Independent First Team All-Conference. In 2008, Jessica Hancock was named Big West First Team All-Conference while two additional Aggies received honorable mention. In 2010, Big West postseason honors for the Aggies included the top freshman field player, a first-team selection and four with honorable mention. Alex Holmes, a former student assistant coach, earned her third straight All-Big West first-team nod in 2011, just one year after she received Big West Pitcher of the Year accolades. Under Yoder's direction, Holmes was a NCAA Division I statistical champion with eight triples in 2011.
The 2010 season saw first-year shortstop Elizabeth Santana recognized as an All-Big West first team honoree and conference Freshman of the Year. That same year, Yoder brought UC Davis to another milestone when the Aggies qualified for the NCAA Stanford Regional - the program's first Division I postseason appearance.
In addition to her team's success in 2010, Yoder earned her 100th UC Davis victory during the opening week, then picked up her 300th collegiate win on March 26 against cross-Causeway rival Sacramento State.
Two years later, pitcher Justine Vela became the first Aggie in the program's history to capture Big West first team and Freshman of the Year recognition in the same season.
Off the field, numerous Aggies have received ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District and/or Big West All-Academic recognition.
Yoder's passion for the game is also evident from her extensive work as a member of numerous committees. The 2012-13 season marked her first as part of the National Fastpitch Coaches Association Diversity Committee. This five-member panel focuses its efforts on reviewing current standards concerning diversity in the NFCA, and the sport, and recommends changes and clarification in NFCA policies and procedures, and for the sport in general, relating to diversity.
Yoder was among a select group of coaches from across the nation invited to attend Dimension II of the NCAA Women's Coaches Academy in Chicago, Ill, in 2011. This took place just one year after she was chosen as the NFCA's All-America Committee chairperson (serving a second term as the organization's Pacific Region representative), elected as a member of the NFCA Ethics Committee and head coach representative for UC Davis' Title IX Athletic Administrative Advisory Committee.
In 2008, she was also invited to participate in the NCAA's Women's Coaches Academy - designed for female coaches who are ready and willing to increase their individual effectiveness by learning advanced skills and strategies that directly affect their personal and team success.
Yoder came to UC Davis from Napa Valley College, where she served as head coach during the 2003 and 2004 seasons, compiling a 45-40 mark. She led Napa to the Bay Valley Conference title in her first season, earning BVC Coach of the Year honors. In 2004, Yoder guided the Storm to a runner-up finish in the league's West Division.
Prior to her stint at NVC, she served as head coach at North Carolina Greensboro where she guided the Spartans to a 31-27 mark in 2001 and a 35-30-1 finish in 2002.
Yoder held her first head coaching position at Cal State Hayward (now known as Cal State East Bay), where she guided the Pioneers to an overall record of 80-56-1 in three years. She twice won Cal Pac Conference Coach of the Year accolades, posting a combined league record of 32-3 during 1999 and 2000. Yoder had served as an assistant coach at Hayward for two years.
As a collegiate player, Yoder lettered three years as a catcher and designated player at New Mexico from 1991 to 1994. She previously played at West Valley College, where she was selected as NorCal Catcher of the Year in 1990. She won All-America honors as a catcher the following year at the ASA national tournament.
After her collegiate career, Yoder played two years in the Women's Professional Fastpich League as a member of the Georgia Pride and the Durham Dragons. In fact, she was a teammate of UC Davis All-American Trisha Reinhardt (Hayes).
Yoder earned her B.S. in kinesiology/professional perspectives from Cal State Hayward in 1996 and added a master's degree in that field in 1999. She served as an instructor both at Hayward and at Napa Valley College.
Yoder and her husband, Shawn, have three children - Jenna, Michael and Natalee.