After the addition of volunteer assistant coach Annie Aldrete, a former catcher for the University of California, Berkeley, the North Carolina softball team is looking forward to the insight she'll bring to its 2021 season.
Aldrete’s hire was announced on Oct. 1. This season will be her first time at an NCAA Division I school as a coach, after she previously worked as an assistant coach for two years at California State University, Monterey Bay. Aldrete was also the head softball instructor at Aldrete Baseball and Softball School in Salinas, California.
But this is far from Aldrete’s first experience with a DI team. She graduated in 2017 from Berkeley as a catcher for the Golden Bears, after playing softball for two years at the University of Tennessee. She made four NCAA tournament appearances in her time as a player and was a co-winner of the inaugural NFCA Division I National Freshman of the Year trophy in 2014.
Head coach Donna J. Papa, players and Aldrete herself agreed that her young age and short time in between roles as a player and coach give the team a unique advantage.
“It’s nice to have a coach that is in their twenties,” Papa said. “She can relate to them in a way, keeping some things real — she brings great energy.”