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Softball Head Coach Finds Purpose in Bringing Success to Several Programs

Tori Tyson, the head coach of Howard University’s softball program, navigates the meaning of purpose in her coaching career.

Howard University softball coach Tori Tyson. (The Hilltop/Kennedi Armour.)

From playing on the field to calling the plays, Tori Tyson has traveled from state to state, improving programs and choosing Howard as her home.

Ahead of her sixth season opener with the Bison on Thursday, Tyson looks to regain championship status as she arrives at the veteran distinction in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC).

With years of experience playing the game and coaching, Tyson has identified programs’ flaws and taken advantage of their strengths, leading to the success of many. Her coaching has molded several players into new, improved athletes, accumulating wins and post-season honors. 

Bethune Cookman University was Tyson’s first coaching job. Starting her coaching career as an assistant coach, Tyson improved the program by being responsible for recruitment, scouting reports on opponents and being the primary coach training the 2015 MEAC Pitcher of the Year, according to

After her first year, she was offered jobs at universities such as California State University, Fullerton, Arizona State University, and the University of Maryland. Choosing to return home, Tyson chose Cal State Fullerton and led the softball team to two NCAA Regional appearances and two Big West Conference championships. Two of her pitchers won Big West Freshman Pitcher of the Year and Pitcher of the Year, according to

Another job opportunity opened up, leading her to the University of Maryland. While there, she helped lead them to their first Big 10 appearance since 2015.

With her expertise in pitching, the team’s pitchers led the team to its first back-to-back conference series win. Tyson then coached for the National Pro Fastpitch (NPF) league, where she was an assistant coach for the Chicago Bandits. Here, she created two undefeated pitchers in the league, according to She also was a head coach of Texas Smoke, a women’s professional team, leading the team to a championship in 2023.

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Tyson joined the Bison family in 2018, where she elevated the program by bringing several wins and accolades‒ such as coaching Kalita Dennis, who made the 2020 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year Watch List, the first in the program to do so, Camille Navarro, who earned MEAC Player of the Year and Kiana Carr, MEAC Pitcher of the Year in 2021‒  and bringing the program’s second MEAC Championship in 2022, defeating their long-time rival, Morgan State.

Tyson described her interest in tackling challenging programs, expressing her gratitude for Howard.

“I think that throughout my career, I always (chose) programs that weren’t easy,” she said. “Coaching at Howard, I will always be grateful because it has given Skylar and I a home.” 

Motivated by being the ideal figure for her daughter, Tyson pours into her athletes as she would want a coach to do for her daughter.

Coach Tori Tyson works with her players in batting cages. (The Hilltop/Kennedi Armour)

“I want to coach young women how I want Skylar to be coached. I want Skylar to be pushed, and I want Skylar to be challenged,” she said. 

Multitasking raising her daughter on her own and running a softball program has its difficulties, but Tyson chooses to showcase to other mothers that anything is possible.

“I don’t want any mother to make an excuse for not chasing her purpose,” she said.

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The success of the team is important to Tyson, but the individual well-being of her players is just as important. She gives these young athletes words of affirmation so that they grow into confident women.

“I feel like her greatest advice that she’s given me is to just be myself; no matter what, be authentically myself and not change a thing,” said Victoria Brown, a junior from Torrance, California, playing the positions 1st base and utilities. 

Tyson also equips her players with life skills that are beneficial as a softball player and as an adult. 

“Being solution-based has been the most important thing she’s taught me on and off the field,” said Navarro, softball alumna and assistant coach. 

The program has grown into what it is today because of the time and energy Tyson has put in over the years. For progress to be made each season, she tells her athletes one thing. 

“For all of my athletes, I tell them that it is their job to come here and leave (the program) better than they find it,” Tyson said.

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Through her highs and lows, her purpose is what kept her going. During the 2022 season, the father of her daughter passed, and even though she was in mourning, she pushed through the grief to be present for her daughter and athletes.  

“When Dylan died, what got me up during that season – cause that was mid-season, is I had a duty to serve Skylar still. I had a duty to be her mother, but I had a duty to continue to lead these women,” Tyson said. 

Purpose is what drives Tyson. She has molded women into ambitious athletes and built up programs in the process. Her purpose is what led her to Howard, and her purpose is what will push her to continue to make high-achieving athletes. 

Copyedited by Jalyn Lovelady


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