Head Softball Coach
Cleats shuffle through dirt. Bright yellow softballs thump cleanly into gloves. In the background, the ting of a bat hitting a ball repeats. “Go, go, go. Good play.” The familiar sounds of softball practice are punctuated by words of encouragement. It’s seamless, rhythmic.
“Some teams just connect,” said Carrie Webber, Azusa Pacific’s head softball coach. “This team bonded quickly, and sometimes that’s more important than the competition and the games,” she continued, sharing that having a tribe of support in college is essential. And the athletes point back to their humble coach and mentor as the catalyst for their close bond.
“Coach is constantly teaching and mentoring us about life beyond softball. She’s taught us to edify one another in faith, belief, and knowledge by loving, encouraging, and praying for one another. This environment allows the team to become family by truly seeing each other as sisters in Christ and lifting each other up.”
A native of Sonora, California, Carrie grew up in a close-knit family with a passion for sports. A two-sport standout at Sonora High School—softball and basketball—she went on to play shortstop at Chico State University, where she started all 201 games she played. She still ranks among Chico State’s all-time top 10 in hits (168), doubles (28), RBIs (67), walks (51), and stolen bases (20). After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in physical education, Carrie earned a master’s in physical education, also from Chico State.
Softball was in her blood and she knew she needed to stay connected to the sport. “The way to stay in the game was to become a coach,” she said. After serving as a faculty member at Santa Rosa Junior College, coaching softball with the Christian sports ministry Competitive Edge International (CEI), and spending three summers as a counselor for Kids Across America, an inner-city youth Christian sports camp, she joined Azusa Pacific as head softball coach in 2008.
In her first season with the Cougars, she rebuilt a squad that had graduated its entire outfield and middle infield the prior season and led the team to third in the GSAC, missing the conference tournament by one game. Since then, Carrie has produced three of APU’s eight 40-win seasons, including 2016 when the team captured its first PacWest championship and hosted an NCAA Division II West Regional tournament. She is the second head coach in Azusa Pacific softball history to reach 200 career wins (2014), and she led the squad to national tournament appearances in three different classifications.
Yet for Carrie, coaching is about more than the game or wins. She is here to support the team and guide each student-athlete to victory beyond the field. Each week, she gathers the women for “team time,” where she gives a devotional to support their faith journey and teaches a practical life skill, such as changing a tire, writing a check, or learning to navigate challenging life circumstances.
“I try to encourage and advise them in life. I want to see them be good athletes, students, employees, and neighbors.”
“College is a tough time for students, especially student-athletes with full schedules,” said utility player Emily Moran ’20, a public relations major. “Coach is here for us through any trial we may face. I know I can go to her at any time with my problems, and she is there to pray over me even when I can't get the words out myself.”
“I don’t think it’s by mistake that God has put me in a position to be single without children, because I am truly available to my girls, and they truly are my family,” said Carrie. She frequently reminds her players that they will be remembered for how they make people feel. As she pours wisdom into every member of the softball team, Carrie’s own impression is clear and lasting.
For Todd, who was born with spastic cerebral palsy, Walkabout served as a reminder that life is about trusting God. “No matter how hard I think I have to work at something and use my own strength— it’s not enough. That’s something that God’s teaching me. I don’t have to depend on myself. I have to depend on Him.”
As the head football coach at Azusa Pacific University, Victor Santa Cruz challenges his athletes toward excellence, on and off the field. “God gave us just one life. We are not going to waste it on mediocrity. We are going to run to be the best.”
Paul Svagdis loves cultivating great baseball players, but his real passion lies in preparing players to live victoriously off the field.