Joe French begins his third year as head coach of the Retrievers after producing back-to-back 40-win seasons during his first two years. Last year, UMBC finished their final year in the Northeast Conference as regular season champions - a great follow-up to the previous year’s 47-21 finish, which set a school-record for most wins in a season. During that year, the Retriever softball team also became the first UMBC team to win an NCAA tournament game in any sport.
French, who has been a mentor at every level including junior college, Division III, and Division II, has also coached women's basketball and tennis. As head coach, he has advanced an incredible 20 out of 25 teams to post-season play, helping his career records to stand at 301-152 in ten years of softball, 205-162 in 14 years of basketball, and 7-3 in one year of tennis. Last year, he achieved two milestones, reaching his 300th win in softball and 500th in combined sports, bringing him to a 513-317 (.618) overall record.
French has been working in college athletics, physical education, and recreational sports since 1977, while coaching since 1982. Over the past 22 years, French's softball and basketball teams have been ranked both regionally and nationally. In addition, his players have received All-American, All-Region, All-ECAC, and All-Conference honors. "UMBC is the culmination of over two decades of hard work and success," French said. "My lifelong dream was fulfilled when I was chosen to become head coach at the Division I level.”
French’s teams and players have also been ranked nationally in numerous NCAA categories, giving him the reputation of being one of the best hitting coaches on the east coast. A strong believer of bat speed, line drive power and emphasizing hitting to all fields, his 2002 and 2003 UMBC teams alone were ranked among the best in the nation.
“This year, we are joining the America East Conference, a league which is among the best on the east coast,” said French. “I think this challenge will initially be difficult, but we look forward to it as we build new rivalries. With our tough non-conference matches, hopefully, our young team will be ready by the time league play begins.”
French received his Bachelor's degree from SUNY-Brockport in 1977 and his Master's in Recreation from the University of Southern Mississippi in 1984. The Waterloo, N.Y. native also received an associate's degree from Monroe CC in 1975. He currently resides in Annapolis with his wife, Cathy, and their sons, Dominic (9), and Angelo (7).