Florence, Ala. – Coach Ashley McCool Cozart knows success. Cozart played high school softball at softball powerhouse Ezell-Harding Christian School in Antioch, Tennessee, before earning a scholarship with Trevecca Nazarene University in Nashville. At Trevecca Nazarene, Cozart was part of a team that had a couple of top-five finishes at the NAIA Softball World Series. Additionally, Cozart was selected as the TranSouth Conference Freshman of the Year in 2004, four-time all-conference and all-region selection and broke the school career record for hits and doubles and is ranked in the program’s top five in runs batted in, home runs, batting average and runs scored. In 2014, Cozart was selected to the Trevecca Athletic Hall of Fame. After finishing at Trevecca Nazarene, Cozart had the opportunity to be the head coach at Antioch High School in Nashville. After one year of the two year program at Antioch, Cozart decided to apply with Lindsey Wilson College. Speaking about Lindsey Wilson College on Applebee’s Tailgate Talk on Saturday, Cozart said, “I came into a situation where the program needed turning around and needed some love and TLC. We were very successful. After success there I had the opportunity to go to the University of North Alabama in July of 2013. Since that time, UNA Softball has been a part of the NCAA Tournament three straight times and ultimately won the NCAA Division II National Championship last season.
Coach Ashley Cozart will tell you, coming off a 2016 NCAA Division II National Championship isn’t easy. Referring to UNA’s successful championship run, Cozart said, “People don’t realize it’s so hard coming off a year like last year. I think some people think it’s easy, but it’s super super hard. Everybody plays their best game against you.” Currently UNA is 10-5 on the season and ranked number 3 in the NFCA Top 25 Coaches Poll. Coach Cozart said, “I’m pleased with where we’re at, but I feel like we haven’t really hit our stride yet. There’s something special about this team.”
As a Division II school, Coach Cozart has built the majority of her team with many outstanding players in and around our area. As UNA moves into Division I and the Atlantic Sun Conference, Coach Cozart says that she will definitely continue to look at local talent, but they’ll have to send more recruiters out and go everywhere. She says one area that she’ll be looking at is deeper south in the state of Alabama. Cozart said, “We haven’t had to go too deep south because there is so much talent north of Birmingham, but we will need to send more people out and look at more kids. Alabama is such a hotbed for talent with such great softball programs.” When Cozart was in Columbia, Kentucky, at Lindsey Wilson College, she says that she recruited quite a few players from the state of Alabama. She said that over time, it became harder and harder to get those Alabama kids. After that, she decided that she just needed to take a job in Alabama and applied for the head coaching job at UNA.
Coach Cozart is helping others along on the coaching path as well. On Applebee’s Tailgate Talk she mentioned a couple of great student assistants who currently work with her at UNA, Brooklynn Clark of Seadrift, Texas, and Courtney Shields of Columbiana, Alabama. Both student assistants played for UNA and did their part to help the team to NCAA Division II National Championship in 2016. Of the pair, Cozart said, “They have been wonderful this year. I don’t know what I would do without them.”
When talking about the job she has, Cozart said, “Coaching is an awesome profession to be in. Sometimes, I have to pinch myself because I love my job so much.” Roar Lions!
Sources: UNA Softball, Trevecca Athletics, Applebee’s Tailgate Talk