UMBC Director of Athletics Tim Hall announced the hiring of Chris Kuhlmeyer as the Retrievers' new head softball coach on August 16, 2018. Almost exaclty nine months later, the Retrievers were hoisting the America East Tournament Championship trophy for the first time in program history.
Kuhlmeyer inherited a 12-31 team that lost a majority of its starting lineup and pitching staff that was picked to finish last in the preseason coaches poll and turned in the second biggest turnaround in terms of wins in the NCAA in 2019, leading UMBC to a 30-24 campaign. He became only the second coach in program history to win 30 games in his debut season (Joe French, 47 wins in 2002), and led the Retrievers to their first NCAA Tournament appearance since that 2002 campaign.
The Retrievers saw noticable increases in every major offensive category in Kuhlmeyer's first season, including a 25 point increase in batting average (.277 from .252), 109 more hits, 60 more runs, 65 more RBI, 26 more doubles and 19 more stolen bases. The team also saw a dramtic improvement in pitching, lowering its ERA from 4.90 to 2.81, with a 293 strikeout increase from the previous season.
"We are thrilled to have Chris be a part of the UMBC family as our new head softball coach," Hall said when announcing the hire. "Chris comes to UMBC with over 15 years of Division I softball coaching experience, and also has a passion for developing student-athletes both on and off the field. We look forward to having him lead our program."
"I'd like to thank Tim Hall, Jessica Hammond-Graf, Kala Andrews and the search committee for allowing me to lead this group of young women at UMBC," Kuhlmeyer said. "It became very apparent early on in the process that this place is filled with people that are very passionate about what they do, who they work with and UMBC as a whole. There is great energy and excitement in the direction of Retriever athletics, and I'm so excited to be a part of it."
The Anacoco, La., native spent the past two seasons as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at Miami (Ohio). In 2017, the RedHawks offense produced some of the highest totals in program history including: most doubles (74), second most runs scored (265) and home runs (47), third-highest runs per game (5.00), RBI (222) and walks (161). The program also set record highs in single semester GPA (Spring 2017 - 3.62) and overall GPA for the year (3.45) that season.
Prior to his time in Oxford, Kuhlmeyer was the winningest head softball coach in Belmont history. During his seven years with the Bruins, the team showed steady improvement each season. While there, he saw Kat Hollingsworth and Lexi Rouse become the program's first two All-Region selections. Academics proved to be a key focus under Kuhlmeyer as the team GPA rose from 2.90 the year he arrived to 3.51 in his final season.
Prior to his time at Belmont, Kuhlmeyer had stints as an assistant coach at Wichita State and Samford. In Wichita from 2006-09, he was the team's recruiting coordinator and also coached the catchers, outfielders and worked with the hitters. At Samford from 2002-06, the Bulldogs produced their best four-year stretch in school history. He was their recruiting coordinator as well, while instructing catchers and corner infielders.
Kuhlmeyer began his coaching career with a pair of volunteer assistant positions at Baylor and his alma mater, LSU. He spent time instructing catchers, taking part in recruiting meetings, scouting opponents and organizing camps. During his season with LSU in 2000, he helped coach the Tigers to the SEC championship and to within one game of the Women's College World Series.
"I am very passionate about what I do and who I work with. Most of all, I am passionate about working with the student-athletes and helping them grow and come to the expectation that they will leave this program in a better place then when they arrived," Kuhlmeyer said. "I cannot wait to meet the team and build relationships with them, as well as helping them be successful on and off the field. I look forward to building this program into a consistent contender in the America East Conference."
Kuhlmeyer earned his bachelor's degree from LSU in sports studies in 1999. He was a four-year student manager for the softball team from 1996-99. He has two children, Addison and Jared.
Kuhlmeyer becomes the Retrievers' seventh head coach since UMBC began competing in softball in 1991.