Taylor Athletics underwent multiple coaching changes over the summer, with Erin Bellinger stepping down as head softball coach in May and Cameron Andry stepping down as head men’s and women’s golf coach in July.
Bellinger’s tenure came to an end quickly after the season ended in the NAIA National Championship tournament on May 17. She spent four seasons in the dugout for Taylor and compiled two national tournament bids and 116-career wins. The 2021 season resulted in 43 wins, a program-record.
Director of Intercollegiate Athletics, Kyle Gould, specified that the timing of the announcement meant there was some knowledge a coaching change was possible amidst the end of the season.
“I wouldn’t say we were prepared for it all season,” Gould said. “But we had a sense that a change may be coming as we get towards the end of the season. It was a unique situation, knowing a coaching change was coming and the team having such an amazing end to the season.”
Bellinger’s tenure resulted in a .634 winning percentage — the best of any Trojan softball coach.
The national search for a replacement didn’t last too long, however, as Jessica Cooley Brown was announced as the next head coach of the softball program on July 11. Brown began her time at Taylor in July and the 2023 spring season will be her first in Upland.
Before her time at Taylor, Brown had a two-year stint as Palm Beach Atlantic’s head coach. PBAU, an NCAA Division II program, compiled a 32-23 record in Brown’s two seasons.
Brown also spent a decade with the Mississippi State University softball program, both as a student-athlete and a coach. In her playing career, she compiled a Southeastern Conference All-Freshman Team selection in 2010 and in 2012 earned a CollegeSportsMadness.com Third-Team All-American selection.
“She checked every box that we were looking for,” Gould said. “She has an incredible testimony and a strong desire to grow young women through a successful softball program. As impressive as her resume is, she’s a better person.”
The other change over the summer came with Andry accepting the women’s golf coaching position at Ball State University in Muncie. Andry, a BSU grad, came to Taylor to work in the Athletic Department in 2010 before taking control of the men’s program in 2012 and taking control of the women’s program as well before the 2016 fall season.
Andry helped bring years of success to both programs, with the men’s team having won its sixth-straight Crossroads League Championship in the spring, and the women’s program winning four straight from 2017 to 2021. The women’s team also finished as NAIA National Runner-Up in 2021.
“A coach is only as good as the players under his or her care,” Andry said. “And we had some really, really talented players take a chance on coming to Taylor when they had other opportunities.”
Both teams consistently found themselves within the NAIA Top-25 rankings, and through his tenures with both programs, totaled 13 NAIA All-Americans and over 50 All-Crossroads League honors.
“I’m forever indebted for the opportunity that I had at Taylor,” Andry said. “And it’s important for me to acknowledge that the opportunity I have at Ball State now is really only due to success and hard work of the student athletes at Taylor, and that’s a pretty humbling thing.”
Andry returns to his alma mater, but said that either way, the decision to leave Taylor was difficult.
“With all that being said, it was hard,” he said. “Because it involves leaving student athletes that I love and leaving programs that I poured into for ten years.”
Taylor is still undergoing the process of finding a replacement for Andry. Gould said the position will require coaching both the men’s and women’s teams at a high level.