“To say that I have enjoyed my time at Tarleton would be an understatement,” said Mata. “I live, laugh, love, and drink up the beauty of this place. There is something about it that is very ‘Norman Rockwell-America’ to me. It is old school, traditional, and pure. The Purple Poo, the Horse & Rider, the stories of our campus are way more than just ‘stories’ to me. It is family. It is home.
“After 20 seasons on the field, I have a passion to teach again and to work in some way, shape or form in athletic administration, in particular,” she continued. “It would not be the right thing to do to be a coach who was coaching simply for a paycheck, when my heart is calling me to do something else. God blessed me so much with this job and with Tarleton. I received both of my degrees from Tarleton. I often tell how I met my husband on the court at Wisdom Gym, he later asked me to marry him under the basketball goal on one end of the court and I gave the commencement address at my college graduation as the ‘Outstanding Graduate of the College of Education and Fine Arts’ on the other end of the court. Those are good times, to say the least.
A two-time Lone Star Conference Coach of the Year, Mata has amassed 569 wins in 20 years to rank her in the top 70 of NCAA Division II softball coaches for total career victories. She entered last season ranked No. 34 in career wins among active head coaches.
Since taking over the program in the summer of 1996, Mata has built the Tarleton Softball program into a national power.
The TexAnns have qualified for 14 Lone Star Conference Championship Tournaments, which is tied for the most in the league, and she has led Tarleton into the national playoffs on four different occasions, including the 2015 season that saw the Purple and White reach new heights. Her TexAnns also won five LSC Division Championships during her tenure.
In arguably the greatest season of TexAnn Softball, Mata’s 2015 TexAnns finished the regular season as the No. 3 seed in the Lone Star Conference and advanced to the LSC Tournament semifinals – putting their playoff fate in limbo.
When the field of 64 playoff teams was announced, Mata’s TexAnns earned the No. 8 seed in the South Central Region and headed to Canyon for a grueling playoff slate against the No. 1-seed and defending national champions, West Texas A&M. Mata and the TexAnns stood tall in a 2-1 upset of the Lady Buffs, which propelled Tarleton to a sweep of the regional field and the school’s first-ever regional championship and trip to NCAA Division II Super Regional Series.
“I can’t say enough about the fantastic job Julie has done here over the last 20 years,” said Tarleton Athletic Director Lonn Reisman. “She has not only been a great coach, but a tremendous role model for our student-athletes. She has done things the right way and we wish her nothing but the best in the next phase of her life.”
“Coach (Lonn) Reisman has been a great mentor,” said Mata. “He took a chance on me 20 years ago and I owe him a great deal for that.”
Mata has led Tarleton to eight 30-win seasons and one 40-win season, which came in 2003 when the Monica Garza-led TexAnns boasted a school record 41 victories in Tarleton’s first-ever trip to the NCAA postseason. Under Mata’s leadership, Tarleton has also been ranked as high as No. 10 in the National Fastpitch Coaches Association Top 25 poll.
“What I am most proud of in my time spent coaching at Tarleton has nothing to do with winning a regional championship or being nationally ranked,” said Mata.
“It has nothing to do with any on the field win at all, even though there have been so many great wins. I am most proud of having 20 years that were filled with ‘daughters’ that graduated and went on to become strong women, strong mothers, and role models of exceptional character. It’s always been about the journey, theirs and mine. That is the best win of all.”
A native of Stephenville, Mata played basketball at Tarleton and was a key contributor on the 1991-92 women’s basketball team that advanced to the NAIA National Championship game and finished as the runner’s up that season. Mata and her basketball teammates from that year were inducted into the Tarleton Athletics Hall of Fame in 2013.
Tarleton’s administration will begin the search for the third head coach of TexAnn Softball immediately.
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