Sometimes during a successful high school softball coaching career, Mark Suire actively sought out the possibility of coaching on the collegiate level.
Suire, a native of Abbeville, said he interviewed for some small-school head coaching jobs to no avail.
With the start of fall football workouts three days away Suire, an assistant football coach at Catholic High-New Iberia, decided to look into a recent opening at Centenary College, whose coach resigned July 10 after a two-year record of 12-57.
Suire decided to apply, conducted two phone interviews and was called for an on-campus visit, ultimately helping the 23-year coach/teacher land the vacant position and realize his goal of becoming a college softball coach.
“You reach a point where you think it’s not going to happen and kind of forget about it,” Suire said. “In the back of your mind, though, it’s always there and burns into your spirit.”
Suire was hired Aug. 13, replacing Amanda Nordberg, who resigned in July after a 7-26 overall record and 4-20 showing in the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference last season.
Suire, who has specialized in either turning around or building softball programs, said he won’t alter his approach stepping into the collegiate arena.
“My plan is for me to come in and be as positive as I can and do the things I’ve always done,” Suire said. “I’m not going to try and be somebody else just because I’ve reached a different level.”
Abbeville High was three years into its new softball program when Suire was asked to take over after being a baseball assistant. He molded that team, led by a talented freshman group, into a state quarterfinalist and spent three years at his alma mater.
Suire took over Delcambre, which had been in existence for one year, and built the Panthers into one of the state’s top Class 1A programs that included a 227-101 record over 12 seasons, a state championship and five trips to the state semifinals.
“I thought I’d take the softball program at Abbeville for one year and go back to baseball,” Suire said. “But I didn’t want to go back because I fell in love with softball. I have no regrets for switching over. It’s been something that’s shaped who I am and allowed me to flourish as a coach.”
Suire returned to Catholic-New Iberia where he began his coaching career as an assistant in football, basketball and baseball. He guided the Panthers the past two seasons, including a 15-10 record and trip to the Class 2A state regionals in 2015.
Suire had every intention of returning for a third year at Catholic-NI when the Centenary job became available at such a late stage in the summer.
“I couldn’t thank the administration enough and my athletic director (Brent Indest) for understanding,” Suire said.
“They were supportive and understood it was for the betterment of me as a professional.”
Two of the bigger issues Suire has tackled in his first several weeks on the job has been to get up to speed on NCAA rules and become compliant in the area of recruiting.
Since Centenary’s a Division III school, it doesn’t offer athletic scholarships but instead rewards prospective student-athletes academic-related assistance.
“I’d been through the process with other schools with not much coming of it,” Suire said. “This time I figured it would be the same thing. But one thing led to another and before I knew it I was offered the job. I thought at the stage I was in my life it was too good of an opportunity to pass up.”