AZUSA, Calif. – Sharon Lehman, the winningest softball coach in the history of the Golden State Athletic Conference, announced today that she is resigning as Azusa Pacific’s head coach after 11 seasons at the post. Lehman, who 3 years ago earned a doctorate in education, will expand her teaching duties in the university’s physical education department.
A 1982 graduate of Azusa Pacific, Lehman returned to her alma mater in 1995 and immediately turned Azusa Pacific into an NAIA power. She guided the Cougars to 3 GSAC titles in her first 6 years at the helm and produced 10 30-win seasons, which included a pair of 50-win campaigns. In 2000, she was named the NAIA Coach of the Year after leading the Cougars into the NAIA championship game, a first for any GSAC school. In all, she took 3 Cougars teams (1996, 1997 and 2000) to Top 5 finishes at the NAIA Tournament. She steps away with an overall collegiate record of 428-195 (.687).
“Coaching has allowed me to be a part of young women’s lives for the past 20 years, said Lehman. I will miss the daily interaction, but plan to keep mentoring college women here at APU. However, God is leading me into a new season of my life, and I’m looking forward to giving my full attention to the students I teach. Young people will always be my passion and calling.”
Lehman came to Azusa Pacific after 9 years as the girl’s softball and basketball coach at The Linfield School in Temecula, Calif. In her first year at Azusa Pacific, she turned an 18-23 team into a 34-19 squad. In the following season of 1996, she led Azusa Pacific to a then program-best 47-14 season which ended with the Cougars’ first-ever NAIA Tournament appearance. The Cougars went one step further the next season by posting a 51-11 record and again finishing fifth at the NAIA Tournament. In 2000, the Cougars returned to the NAIA Tournament and finished as the national runner-up with a program best 53 victories. At one stretch in Lehman’s coaching career, Azusa Pacific won 108 of 138 games.
Lehman, who was a 3-time GSAC Coach of the Year, coached 9 NAIA All-Americans and 31 All-GSAC players, including 8 player-of-the-year honorees.
A search for Lehman’s replacement will be conducted by Azusa Pacific director of athletics Bill Odell.