Enterprise State Community College announced this week the hiring of a new head softball coach, Clair Goodson, who is returning to the Wiregrass where she has spent the majority of her coaching career and life.
After spending the last several months as an assistant coach at East Mississippi Community College (EMCC), Goodson jumped at taking the position at ESCC.
“It’s home,” she flatly said. “Coming back to the Wiregrass is home to me. It’s close to my family and I’m very familiar with the area and with recruiting the local kids in the area that I’ve watched grow up playing. It was an awesome decision for me because now I get to come home and be around my family.”
That familiarity with the area is one of the reasons that Goodson stood out to ESCC, as well.
“She has tremendous recruiting ties in the local area that made her an attractive candidate for us,” ESCC President Matt Rodgers said. “Day one she can hit the ground running and I think she’s a hard worker.
“From my research, she’s respected amongst the Wiregrass coaches and we fully expect her to attack recruiting, particularly in our own backyard in the Wiregrass, and work out from there. We believe there is a tremendous amount of talent here in the Wiregrass.”
Goodson grew up in Ariton and her father was the head softball coach at Ariton High School for years. Goodson eventually played high school softball at Charles Henderson High School and earned back-to-back all-state honors as a third baseman before going on to play collegiately at Northwest Florida State College.
After two years at Northwest Florida State, Goodson transferred to Auburn University and earned her bachelor’s degree in mathematics. During her time at Auburn she served as orientation leader coordinator of the school’s Foy Student Union. During that time she also jumped into coaching as a volunteer assistant under her father at Ariton.
She served as head coach of the Flames Travel Softball team from 2009 until 2011 and was an assistant coach at Ariton from 2008 until 2011. In 2012, Goodson moved on to Opelika High School where she was a teacher and assistant softball and volleyball coach.
In 2015, Goodson was hired to serve as an assistant coach for the Wallace Community College softball program, which has been one of the top softball programs in the state since that time. During her time with Wallace, the Lady Govs earned the 2018 and 2019 ACCC Southern Division Championships and 2019 District I Championship. The 2019 squad also finished fourth nationally in the NJCAA National Tournament.
During her time as an assistant coach at Wallace, the Lady Govs held an impressive record of 265-123. Earlier this year, Goodson accepted an assistant coaching position with the EMCC softball program. EMCC is most well known for being the location of the first two seasons of the Netflix docu-series “Last Chance U.”
Rogers said that her success under Wallace coach David Russo was another leading factor to bringing her to ESCC.
“She comes to us highly recommended and she worked for an outstanding coach in Coach Russo at Wallace,” Rodgers emphasized. “Their track record there speaks for itself. They’re a perennial state contender and national contender there.
“That played a major role, we wanted someone who quite frankly could build a program and also win. She was very humble but very knowledgeable and confident in her ability to mold young women and develop them not only as players but as young adults. We’re excited about her joining our team.”
While some may look at recruiting athletes to junior college programs as a difficult task, Goodson said it’s all about finding the right fit.
“Honestly, I never thought of it to be difficult,” she flatly said. “It’s just about finding the right kids to fit the program and what’s going to be a good fit for them, too.”
Goodson says she wants to build ESCC’s softball program into one that the community can be proud of and one that is respected across the state.
“Obviously, the goal is to go over there and build a program and have a respectful reputation as a program, as a team and as players and coaches,” she said. “We want to have talented girls from the Wiregrass and outward come in and get their education, play some ball, win and make a difference in our division and our conference.”
Goodson will be coming to ESCC in the midst of a number of facility upgrades at the school’s athletic facilities. The baseball and softball teams are currently enjoying the most recent upgrade, a new indoor hitting facility. Rodgers said that new grandstand bleachers at both the softball and baseball fields along with a new parking lot are also coming to the baseball/softball complex.
“Athletics is important and it’s important to me and we want it to be even more important to this college,” Rodgers said. “It provides more opportunities to the community. We have 51 new scholarships for students with our three new sports.
“That is our No. 1 mission, to provide as many opportunities as we can for students in our area. Athletics allows us to do that and it also allows us to have people on our campus, which is a win for us. Anytime we can get someone on our campus for an event or a game or for any other reason it is a good day and it is a win for our college.”
All of ESCC’s recent coaching hires will be introduced at an introductory press conference on the campus of ESCC on Dec. 10 at 10:30 a.m.