In his first year as head coach at UMBC, Joe French took the team to a level never before reached, and perhaps, not expected. Last year's Retriever squad finished with a school-record 47 wins, won the Northeast Conference Championship, and 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 19 out of 24 teams to post-season play, helping his career records to stand at 261-130 in nine years of softball, 205-162 in 14 years of basketball, and 7-3 in one year of tennis. Currently, French needs only 27 more wins to claim a milestone 500 combined career wins.
Over the past 21 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, and after spending a year and a half here, I can honestly say that I love coming to work everyday."
This year, French aims to qualify once more for the NEC tournament. "Good teams can win a championship, great teams can win back-to-back titles," said the coach. "It is important that individually and collectively, we accept the challenge of being the hunted." French will rely on good pitching, good defense, and timely hitting to advance again to the four-team conference tournament.
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, NY 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 (8), and Angelo (6).