Heather Gelbard was named head softball coach at UMBC in July of 2016.
Gelbard becomes the Retrievers’ sixth head coach since UMBC began competing in softball in 1991. She replaces Joe French, who retired in May after guiding the Retrievers for 15 seasons and compiling a record of 435-397-1 (.523 winning percentage) at UMBC and a mark of 649-506-1 (56.2%) in 23 seasons of collegiate coaching.
“Heather demonstrated a true passion for student-athlete welfare both on and off the field and her commitment to UMBC Athletics’ core values make her a great fit,” Hall said. “Her distinguished college playing career and her work with a highly successful mid-major program like FAU are wonderful attributes and we are confident she can bring those qualities to lead our program.”
Colin Christiansen joins the Black and Gold after serving as a graduate manager for University of Tennessee softball team.
As graduate manager, Christiansen assisted in pitching and defensive workouts and ran the Dartfish TV film software system. He was also a softball undergraduate assistant coach during the spring 2016 for Tennessee, where he threw live batting practice and caught bullpens, as well as tagged pitches on iPad for hitters during games, helped organize day to day set up on and off field, and charted pitches, tendencies, and outcomes.
Prior to coming to Knoxville, he was a student assistant coach for the Mount St. Mary’s University softball team, where he created scouting reports and was the first base and outfield coach. Previous to that, he was the Mountaineer’s softball manager during his time in Emmitsburg and threw live batting practice and caught bullpens, filmed games, managed the field crew, and charted pitches and kept the scorebook via iPad.
Annie Voyles Gelbard
Annie Voyles Gelbard was the Director of Operations at Arizona State, where she was a member of the NFCA West Region Coaching Staff of the Year that led the Sun Devils to an appearance and fourth place finish in the 2012 Women’s College World Series.
Prior to her at time at ASU, Voyles Gelbard was the lead assistant and pitching coach at Wright State from 2009-2011. The Raiders won the 2010 Horizon League Tournament and subsequently won a game in the Ann Arbor Regional of the NCAA Tournament, a program first. From September 1, 2010 – November 1, 2010, she was interim Head Coach of the program. She began her coaching career as the lead assistant at Presbyterian College in South Carolina from 2007-2009 while also working towards her masters in sport science from the United States Sports Academy.
Voyles Gelbard was a standout collegiate player in the state of Florida. She was named Conference Freshman of the Year and First Team All-Conference as a utility player at Florida Gulf Coast University in 2004 after going 13-3 with a 1.53 ERA. She then transferred to Division I Florida Atlantic where she played for softball pitching legend and Hall of Fame coach Joan Joyce and helped lead the Owls to consecutive conference tournament titles (Atlantic Sun in 2006, Sun Belt in 2007) and NCAA Tournament Appearances. During her junior year at FAU, Voyles Gelbard was a member of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee and received the athletic department’s school spirit award. In her senior season, she was a team captain and nominated for FAU Student Athlete of the Year, as well as being named the recipient of the 2007 FAU Community Service Award. Voyles Gebard acted as the SAAC chairperson for community service projects her senior year, heading multiple volunteer activities in the area. She also organized the inaugural “Strike-Out Cancer” invitational softball tournament at FAU which has now raised tens of thousands of dollars for the American Cancer Society.
In high school, Voyles Gelbard was a four-time all-state selection at Trenton High School (Florida). She was also named a Wendy’s High School Heisman Nominee, Navy Scholar Athlete, Marine Distinguished Athlete of the Year, and graduated in 7th in her class.
Shortly after graduating magna cum laude from the United States Sports Academy with her masters in sport science in 2009, Voyles Gelbard fell gravely ill. There were days when she couldn’t finish practice or make it through a game without becoming physically ill. She saw doctor after doctor to try to understand what was going on and eventually had to take a medical leave of absence because her health was declining to the point of organ failure.
It took 5 years for her to receive the diagnosis of dysautonomia, a rare disorder that has no known cause or cure, and flares often render her totally incapacitated. Learning to live with a life altering illness has been a physical and emotional struggle for Voyles Gelbard. “I had to give up my career and lost many of my friends. Basic life skills like walking became difficult for me to perform on my own, and the cognitive fog made daily life a struggle. I learned to listen to my body so that I would know when I needed my wheelchair, but struggled with accepting the fact that I truly needed it.”
Voyles Gelbard said she had trouble finding her calling in life after her health and athletic lifestyle were abruptly taken from her. “Being able to contribute to the game of softball again has helped me regain a true sense of purpose. Although I may not physically be able to be out on the field full time, contributing to the game when I can is incredibly fulfilling. I am beyond grateful for the opportunity to work with my wife and help grow the game we love.”
Taylore Fuller joins the UMBC softball coaching staff after a stellar collegiate career with the Florida Gators and two summers in the NPF for the Scrapyard Dawgs and Chicago Bandits, respectively. Ranked as the nation’s No. 6 catcher and No. 38 overall prospect out of high school, the Trenton, Florida native joined the University of Florida softball team in the fall of 2012. Taylore was a 4 year starter who helped lead the Gators’ program to consecutive Women’s College World Series titles in 2014 & 2015. Showing her true versatility as an all-around athlete, she played in 231 games with 198 starts during her time at UF, and played every position except pitcher, second base, and center field.
Fuller was a 3-time SEC regular season champion and 2-time SEC Academic Honor Roll selection (2015, 2016). She ended her career at Florida with 36 homeruns (T-7th program history), 8 grand slams (2nd in program history) and 49 HBP (2nd in program history), with an on base percentage of .399, slugging percentage of .477, 141 RBI, and a career batting average of .244.
Fuller was drafted 34th overall in the 2016 NPF Draft by the ScrapYard Dawgs where she Started 40 games in her rookie season as Monica Abbott’s primary catcher, hitting 5 homeruns (4th highest on the team), 11 RBI, and drawing 21 walks. She played her second professional season with the Chicago Bandits where she had a .286 slugging percentage and a .293 on base percentage.
Volunteer Assistant Coach
Taylor Hall returns to her alma mater to join the coaching staff as a volunteer assistant, after graduating in 2015 with a major in financial economics.
She climbed the Retrievers’ record book and became the program’s all-time leader in extra base hits (81), while finishing her career ranked in the top-10 at UMBC in 10 categories. She was only the fourth Retriever to be named to the All-Conference First Team three seasons in a row. She was the 2012 co-Rookie of the Year as well.