SOFTBALL: Amy Hooks tabbed as Lamar head softball coach

Published 9:19 pm Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Staff report

BEAUMONT – Amy Hooks has been named head coach of Lamar University’s embattled softball program, replacing a predecessor who is fighting the school in 60th Judicial District Court over her dismissal.

Marco Born announced the new hire Wednesday afternoon.

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“I’m very pleased to announce Amy as our new head softball coach,” Born said. “She comes to us highly recommended.

Hooks, 29, comes to Beaumont after spending the last six seasons as an assistant coach at Northwestern State.

“Amy is known for her ability to develop young talent, but she really separated herself during the interview process. She already has a strong understanding of the Southland Conference after spending the previous six seasons at Northwestern State. In addition to her success as a coach, Amy was also one of the all-time great players at Texas. We are proud to bring her back to the Lone Star State, and I’m excited for the future of Lamar University softball.”

Hooks must also set aright a softball shaken internally in recent months by the ouster of Holly Bruder, coach for the last six seasons, and her associate head coach and wife, Allison Honkofsky. Honkofsky was accused by a player who said that Honkofsky forced her to violate her religious beliefs by eating meat during Lent during a road trip to Northwestern State.

The player, Paige Holmes, said when she appealed to Bruder about the incident, Bruder refused her a meeting, tried to force her to quit the team and then benched Holmes, who had been the starting catcher, for most of the second half of the season.

Holmes later took her complaint to Born, the newly hired athletic director, who first suspended Bruder and then sought her resignation. Bruder and Honkofsky were eventually fired after refusing to resign, although Honkofsky’s dismissal was delayed until August.

Bruder and Honkofsky have hired an attorney, Cade Bernsen, who has sought a temporary injunction to halt the dismissals. The next hearing is set for July 9.

Lamar President Kenneth Evans said in a recent issued statement that the dismissals of Bruder and Honkofsky was “appropriate and legal.”

“…We are fully prepared to defend these actions in trial court and, if necessary, the appellate courts,” he said.

Bernsen disagrees. The Beaumont attorney said his clients were “treated horribly” by Lamar and denied due process under the university’s own guidelines.

“We’re going to go forward,” he said of the legal process. “We think they were forced out wrongfully

“I wish her the best, personally,” Bernsen said of the new coach. “It’s nothing against the new coach. She’s coming into a bad situation. It’s a huge mess, a huge problem.”

He said Lamar could not “cover their tracks” by making a new hire.

Hooks played a pivotal role in the resurgence of Northwestern State’s program beginning in 2013, helping guide the Demons to their best three-year stretch in program history. During that time Northwestern State won a Southland Conference regular-season title, two conference tournament titles, and advanced to the NCAA Championships in 2013 and 2014. The Demons finished no worse than second in the league standings during that run, while recording two 30-win seasons and a 40-win campaign.

In all, Northwestern State won more than 100 games and posted a .658 winning percentage from 2013-15. Northwestern State won 93 Southland Conference games during Hooks’ six-year run in Natchitoches while posting a .588 winning percentage.

“I would first like to thank Lamar University President, Dr. Kenneth Evans, and Director of Athletics Marco Born for giving me the opportunity to become Lamar’s next head coach,” said Hooks. “I’m extremely excited about this opportunity. Being in the league, I’ve been able to see LU for the past six seasons and they’ve always been competitive. When Marco gave me the opportunity to see the campus and the facilities it was a no-brainer.

“The athletics department and the community really get behind LU. There is a strong support structure in place from the department and I want to be a part of that,” added Hooks.

Although spending the previous six years in Louisiana, Hooks is no stranger to softball in the state of Texas. A native of Mesquite, Hooks played her collegiate softball at the University of Texas. A standout for one of the nation’s premier programs, Hooks graduated as the school’s all-time leader in home runs, while finishing second in program history in walks, fifth in runs batted in and sixth in runs scored. She also ranked among the school’s all-time top 10 in games played, started, slugging percentage and on-base percentage.

She was named three times to the Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll for academic performance.

A former All-American and Big 12 Player of the Year, Hooks guided the Longhorns to the NCAA Regional Championships all four seasons. Her playing days extended past her collegiate career as she also competed for the NY/NJ Comets and the Carolina Diamonds of the National Pro Fastpitch league.