Meredith Powell and Rusty Ingram had very different paths to Christopher Newport University, but both have found comfortable landing spots following successful high-school coaching careers in the Historic Triangle.
Powell, who coached softball at Warhill for five years and still teaches special education at the school, is in her first season as an assistant coach with CNU’s softball team after being replaced by Tom Bunn in the offseason.
Ingram, who stepped down as York’s head baseball coach following last season after coaching prep sports for 34 years, now serves as a pitching coach for the CNU baseball team.
Both Powell and Ingram coaching at CNU simultaneously is serendipitous given the prior history between the two longtime coaches.
Ingram, who is older than Powell, and his wife, Tammy, used to babysit Powell when she was growing up. In return, Powell babysat Ingram’s son Coleman when he was younger.
“Our family and her family have grown up together,” Ingram said. ““We have a long history with each other. We’ve been friends for a long time.”
Now, the family friends work right across the street from each other at their respective fields as they work through the growing pains of new positions.
For Powell, the biggest adjustment in her first college coaching gig has been going from a head coach to an assistant coach. Powell said having to learn someone else’s system and learn how things operate within the organization has been an eye-opening experience.
“It’s definitely different in terms of competition and different policies. I’ve learned so much from the coaching staff and the girls,” she said about her transition from high school to college. “Finding your way within a system is what I had to learn first. It wasn’t something I ever disagreed with, it’s just different being the one to dictate things and now being the one to follow.”
Christopher Newport’s softball team is in the midst of a successful season, with the Captains sporting a 34-7 record and waiting to see if they will earn an at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament.
For Ingram, the transition from high school to college has been strenuous, but in different ways than he was used to at York.
Ingram now spends his days working solely with pitchers and helping them hone the finer aspects of pitching. At York, his days revolved around worrying about pitching, hitting, defense, fundraising, field maintenance and uniform oversight.
While Ingram is not being pulling in different directions during practices, he had to adjust to a baseball season that began in January, oftentimes playing and practicing in cold and windy conditions.
“You’ve got to have a little toughness to you,” Ingram joked about coaching in January. “It’s strenuous and intense. You have to be ready to play every day.”
In his first season at CNU, Ingram helped navigate the Captains to a 25-14 record and is now looking forward to next season.
“I think we did a pretty good job this year and hopefully we’ll get a little better next year,” he said. “I think the future is pretty bright.”