An Interview With Head Coach Chuck Sosnowski

Hudson Valley Community College athletics director Drew Marrochello announced in December 2000 that Chuck Sosnowski of Hoosick Falls would lead Hudson Valley's softball team in 2001. Sosnowski previously compiled 107 wins while coaching at Herkimer County Community College. He has lost just 34 games, giving him a .737 winning percentage, and has twice been named National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Region III Coach of the Year. Here, the 1990 SUNY Cortland graduate answers a few questions:

Q: What is your softball background?

CS: I started playing softball just out of high school. I've played at the world and national level. So that's where my interest comes from, and I still do continue to play during the summer. I've been to several world and national championship tournaments. I play middle infield, primarily shortstop, and some second base. I'm in the middle of the infield because that's where most of the action is. And I feel defense is my strength. Defense has always been my big, big priority.

Q: What is your coaching background?

CS: I coached at Herkimer for five seasons. We were five-time Mountain Valley Conference champions. We won the region two years and went to two national tournaments. In our first national tournament; we were the only Division III school to qualify, it was all Division I. So that was quite the accomplishment. And then, my last year at Herkimer, we returned to the national tournament and finished fourth in the country. That was a Division III tournament.
 My interest for the game goes back to my childhood and starting to play fast-pitch. That's why I want to continue coaching at this level. A lot of people ask me why I don't do baseball. Well, I love baseball, I played baseball at collegiate level, but I don't play it anymore. My interest is still in fast-pitch softball.

Q: What are the differences between softball and baseball?

CS: Softball is a much quicker game. It's on a smaller scale. The field is much smaller, so basically, things happen more quickly. Pitching is much different, obviously. The ball actually has a little more movement on it, and it's moving up to the hitter instead of moving down. In baseball you're throwing overhand and the ball basically is coming down; in fast-pitch everything is mainly coming up. A lot of times in baseball, you'll get runners on base or a runner on first base, and you'll get four or five pickoff moves in a row. In fast-pitch softball, you don't get that. There are no pickoffs – there's stealing and that type of thing – there's not those long delays in the game. In baseball, you have a lot of substitutions because of pitcher rotation. In softball, you don't really get that. A good softball pitcher can typically throw a complete game and can throw several games in a row if they're in good condition.

Q: What brought you to Hudson Valley?

CS: I relocated because of my wife's job. She's quality control for Energizer, and she's now the assistant plant manager, so it was good opportunity for her. I knew it'd be much easier for me to continue coaching. It took us a couple years to get settled, but now that we're settled I basically wanted to get back into coaching. I'm very familiar with this region, so I should be very comfortable at Hudson Valley. I know what it takes to be successful at this level.

Q: What kind of experiences have you had coaching against Hudson Valley?

CS: They've always been very competitive ballgames. This is obviously a great area for softball; there are some good athletes here, so we've had some close contests. Fortunately for Herkimer and myself, Herkimer came out on top most of the time. (Laughing.) But hopefully that'll change now. Hopefully the tide will turn a little bit. But it was always a very good rivalry. We always knew that Hudson Valley was going to give us a tough game.

Q: What are your expectations for 2001?

CS: It'll be kind of tough. I don't really know the players' talents, because I haven't seen most of them play, but I'm confident. From talking to Hudson Valley's athletics director, Drew Marrochello, it seems like the attitudes are very good and that's important. If they're going to come out and give me 100 percent, I think we'll be very successful. I can see us making the regional tournament. And, pending on our pitching, we could go further. My goal, I guess, as a unit this year, we're looking to win the Mountain Valley Conference, make regionals and do well in regionals.

Q: Generally speaking, what does it take for a women's softball team to be successful?

CS: Commitment. You need a good quality pitcher or two. They need to be dedicated – not only the pitchers, but all the players need to be dedicated to do things year-round. They need to do something in the fall to keep themselves in condition, so that when they come in the spring they're ready and they don't have to work on those things too much. But attitude plays a big role, and the way that I communicate with the athletes, that's important. If they respect me as a coach, they're going to give me 100 percent and play hard for me. If I treat them well and I'm fair to them, I usually get the same in return. I feel that's probably why I've been so successful as a coach, because I've always had that good relationship with all my players.

Q: Are you excited about this season?

CS: I'm very excited. Hudson Valley has always had a competitive, winning program, and I'm looking forward to taking it to the next level. I think we'll do very well. This is a very good softball area. Section II is one of the best sections in the state at the high school level, so we should do very well with recruiting. I'm very excited.