Owen comes to Crookston from the Division I ranks, where he was an assistant coach

    The University of Minnesota Crookston athletic department announced the hiring of Travis Owen as head coach for the softball program.

    Owen has spent the last two seasons as an assistant coach at NCAA Division I school University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, Colo. Owen is familiar with the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference having spent two seasons as an assistant coach at Northern State University during the 2011 and 2012 seasons. In addition, Owen was previously a head coach at NAIA-affiliate Lyon College in Batesville, Ark., during the 2013 season.

    "We are very excited to announce Travis Owen as our head softball coach," said Director of Athletic Stephanie Helgeson. "Travis brings a wealth of knowledge to the position with experience as an assistant and head coach at a variety of levels. He is familiar with the high level of softball in the NSIC through his experience at Northern State, and has experience recruiting the region and on a national level at his previous stops. We are excited for Travis to hit the ground running and establish a competitive program in the NSIC."

    "I want to first thank the search committee and Director of Athletics Stephanie Helgeson for the opportunity to lead the Golden Eagles Softball program," Owen said. "Their belief in the program, helpfulness, and reciprocated interest during the interview process was a reflection of the close-knit Crookston community values. I would also like to express my appreciation to my coaching mentors, family, and close friends for all the support and input they've provided me during my journey in again becoming a head coach."

    Owen helped the Bears to 48 wins in his two seasons as an assistant coach under Head Coach Shana Easley. Northern Colorado had won just nine games the season prior to Owen's arrival. He helped establish a competitive product in Greeley as the Bears finished in sixth place in the Big Sky Conference in 2018, clinching a tournament berth. The 28-28 mark for Northern Colorado in 2018 marked the best season for the Bears since the 2002 season. He helped Northern Colorado to a .270 batting average and a 3.74 earned runs average as a team. During his time with the Bears, he helped Jordyn Wiatrak to an All-Big Sky First Team nod in 2018. In addition, Valerie Vidal earned All-Big Sky Second Team in 2018, while Lauren Paige was an All-Big Sky Honorable Mention selection. In his first season with the Bears, Owen helped mentor Erica Dick to an All-Big Sky First Team nod, while Wiatrak and Jayme Reddaclif garnered All-Big Sky Second Team recognition. During his time with the Bears, Owen also helped guide Lauren Paige to a Google Cloud Academic All-America First Team nod.

    Prior to arriving in Greeley, Owen served as an assistant coach for one season at Division I Radford University in Radford, Va. During his one season with the Highlanders, he helped propel the squad to a 23-win improvement, a mark that was tops among Division I schools. Radford went 35-26 in 2016, advancing to the Big South Conference semifinal game. In addition, Owen helped guide the Highlanders to multiple statistical improvements, including a conference-leading 77 doubles, an ERA improvement from 6.66 to 2.90 and a jump from ninth to fourth in the Big South Conference in both fielding percentage and runs scored. With Owen's help, the Highlanders also set a program record with 612 assists on the season and finished the year with 35 wins, climbing 96 spots in the RPI rankings.

    Prior to his three years as a Division I assistant, Owen spent one year coaching and playing fast-pitch softball in New Zealand. While working with Howick Softball Club in Auckland, New Zealand, Owen helped lead the women's squad to a top eight national finish. He also served as Howick Softball Club's development officer during his time in Auckland. Owen also ran a nine-week winter softball academy and implemented hitting, pitching, and coaching clinics with the club. He was also the team's liaison for local schools looking to improve and develop their softball programs.

    Before his stint in New Zealand, Owen served as the head coach for one season at Lyon College, a NAIA school in Batesville, Ark. The team ended the 2013 season with their third-best finish in school history. Owen improved the team's batting average by 68 percentage points as they finished the year swinging over .300 as a team. The Scots added 31 stolen bases, and decreased their number of errors by 50 and lowered their team ERA almost a full run (0.96) from the previous year.

    Prior to taking over at Lyon, Owen spent two years in the NSIC at Northern State as an assistant coach. He helped the Wolves to a 10-win improvement as they finished with 24 victories on the 2012 season. The mark was a program-best at the time. Owen's main responsibilities with the program were overseeing out-of-region recruiting, assisting with practice planning, and skill development at all positions. Owen also helped develop the squad's strength and conditioning program. He was a graduate assistant for the Northern State athletic department in 2010, prior to moving over to softball as an assistant coach.

    "Having started my coaching roots in the NSIC and following the conference over the years, I am very familiar with Minnesota Crookston's history," Owen said. "My vision for the softball program is to become a program with high standards both on and off the field that everyone is proud to be a part of- everyone ranging from the community to the coaches to the student-athletes and their families.  I believe there are good things ahead and can't wait to start with the process."

     Owen graduated magna cum laude from Saint Louis University in St. Louis, Mo., with a Bachelor of Science degree in 2007. He earned his master's degree from Northern State.