FULLERTON, Calif. – With the Titan Softball program set to host their annual alumni slow-pitch game and the Leadoff Social dinner on Saturday, January 27th, we take a look at some of our former Titans who are now giving back to the sport of softball.
This week we focus on Gina Oaks-Garcia (2000-03) and Monica Tantlinger (2004-05).
Gina Oaks-Garcia will be entering her first season as the head coach of the Claremont Mudd-Scripps softball program. Before being hired this past November, Oaks-Garcia was the coach and owner of Go Getter Softball. Prior to the Go Getter organization, she served as an Assistant Coach at Loyola Marymount, Cal State Fullerton, and Azusa Pacific on two separate occasions.
"I knew once I got to college that I wanted to get into coaching," said Oaks-Garcia. "I had many influential coaches growing up that impacted my life in a positive way that I thought to myself I want to be that person for others. To see the progress in a child, teen, or college athlete not only athletically but personally is something you can't really explain. To know you're a small change in a person's life is such an incredible feeling. The smiles when something clicks always makes coaching so rewarding."
Oaks-Garcia continued, "My time at Fullerton was such an amazing experience and definitely led me to be a coach. The coaching staff with Gromacki at the helm always had our backs, and made my time there so special. I have so many fun memories being a Titan!"
In her time as the owner and coach, Oaks-Garcia has seen three of her players develop into USA National level athletes and a countless number of players go on to play at high-level colleges around the country. At LMU, she helped the team to a 131-130 record and two second-place finishes in the West Coast Conference. Thirteen of her players went on to receive All-Conference awards in her five years at Loyola Marymount including seven first-team selections. At APU she helped lead the team to a remarkable 102-56 record and back-to-back NAIA Tournament appearances. In her two years of coaching at Fullerton, she helped lead the team to a Big West Championship and a pair of NCAA Regional appearances, as well as a Super Regional appearance.
"There are many aspects of my job as a coach that keep me going," Gina explained. "However, my favorite part is getting those thoughtful text messages from current and past players, written thank you notes, and random calls just checking in on me to see how life is going. That's when you know you have made some sort of impact on an athlete. It definitely makes me happy."
Oaks-Garcia played four years at Fullerton, she was one of the best two-players in Titan history. At the plate, she hit .295 with 24 home runs and 108 RBI while also going 74-23 with a 1.37 career ERA in the circle for the Titans. She currently ranks in the top 10 all-time in 14 different categories, four hitting and ten pitching, in Cal State Fullerton history. Among her very long list of accolades is two All-American selections as she is one of just eight former Titans to have multiple All-American awards.
Monica Tantlinger is going into her fifth season at the helm of Pasadena City College softball. Before becoming the head coach of the Lancers in 2014, she served as an assistant coach at East Los Angeles College in 2013. She also has extensive DI experience after spending three years at UC Riverside from 2006-09 and three more years at Purdue University from (2009-12).
"I was given the opportunity to be a fifth year at Fullerton working on the coaching staff with Gromacki," said Tantlinger. "My major was communications with an emphasis in entertainment studies and I originally thought I wanted to act. After coaching that fifth year, I realized coaching is the best of both worlds. It's performing under pressure inspiring others in creative ways with sports. We ended up getting regional coaching staff of the year that year and I was hooked."
Tantlinger continued, "I felt like I had a gift for inspiring my teammates around me and Gromacki gave me a platform to do that. As a player and as a fifth year, my experience there is why I joined the coaching world."
Tantlinger is coming off her third consecutive 20-win season and led the Lancers to their first postseason So-Cal playoff appearance in 11 years. She currently bolsters an overall record over .500 since joining the program back in 2013. Last season, PCC won 25 games in the season, the most for the program since 2006, giving them second place in the South Coast Conference, North Division. In her time, her players have earned 11 All-SCC selections including Justine Zavala, who was named PCC's Women's Athlete of the Year in 2014-15.
"After I decided to coach, I coached in DI for six years and I loved it, but felt like something was missing," explained Tantlinger. "I decided I wanted to help kids do what I did and help the kids weren't recruited out of high school or had things going at home that kept them from going to a four-year university. After I got my master's, I went into community college coaching. Helping these players realize their dream of playing at a four-year isn't over and that they just have to take a different path to get there is what keeps me going. Showing them that if they put in the hard work and determination, they can get that walk-on scholarship like I did. I love the community college players; they work and go to school and have to really decide how much they love their sport. They are true underdogs and they inspire me every single day."
Tantlinger played two seasons for the Titans after being a walk-on from Antelope Valley College. She went on to earn a scholarship from Coach Gromacki and helped Fullerton win 30 games in 2005. CSF went on to make their 21st NCAA regional appearance that season. She also served as a graduate assistant under Michelle Gromacki in 2006, where they won regional coaching staff of the year.
The alumni game will be played January 27 at 1:00 p.m. at Anderson Family Field followed by the Leadoff Social dinner at 4:00.
If you or anyone you know is a Cal State Fullerton alumni and is continuing to give back to the game of softball by coaching, giving private lessons, or running camps/clinics contact Collin Robinson (email@example.com) or Head Coach Kelly Ford (firstname.lastname@example.org) so we can share your story.
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