When Lindsay Chouinard took over the Northern Illinois University softball program in July of 2007, the first time head coach felt it could be turned around in short order. However, she soon found out it would not be a quick fix.
"When I first took over, I definitely felt it was something that could be fixed right now," Chouinard said. "I quickly learned that wasn't the case."
While the turnaround didn't happen overnight, it happened. Chouinard spent much of her early years at NIU establishing the culture of her softball program and it's a culture of success.
The Huskies have advanced to the Mid-American Conference Softball Tournament every year since 2009, reaching the semifinals in 2009 and 2010. In 2011, Northern Illinois recorded its first winning regular season since 2003, posting a 26-25 mark, tallying the most wins by a Huskie softball team since 2000.
A standout pitcher for DePaul from 2000-03, Chouinard came to NIU after a successful stint as the pitching coach at her alma mater. She took what she learned at DePaul, the work ethic, style of play and the way to get things done, and brought it to DeKalb. After assessing the program after her arrival, Chouinard felt recruiting would be key to the Huskies' success.
"Recruiting was extremely important for us," Chouinard said. "Getting kids in that understood our vision, our style and were willing to buy into where we were trying to get the program was important. Getting the right kids was ultimately what we needed the most."
With four recruiting classes under her belt, Chouinard has put her stamp on the NIU softball program. During her tenure at Northern Illinois, she has mentored nine All-MAC honorees, five MAC All-Freshmen Team selections, three MAC All-Tournament Team picks, one all-region player and the 2011 MAC Freshman of the Year.
"We've improved every year I've been here, which is a great thing," she said. "Hopefully that improvement will continue and we can win a MAC championship."
Chouinard knows the path to success from her time as a coach and player at DePaul. As the Blue Demons' pitching coach from 2004-07, she produced two NCAA All-America pitchers in 2007 in Tracie Adix and Becca Heteniak. Her expertise helped the Blue Demon pitching staff to finish in the top-50 in team ERA every year of her tenure. Her 2007 pitching staff recorded an earned run average of 1.32 to rank sixth in the nation. The National Fastpitch Coaches Association honored the coaching staff as the Mideast Coaching Staff of the Year in 2005 and 2007 after leading DePaul to the Women's College World Series in both seasons. In 2007, the Blue Demons went 47-13 and finished fifth in the country, the second-best finish in school history.
As a student-athlete at DePaul, Chouinard was a four-year starting pitcher for one of the top teams in the nation. A two-year team captain, she led the Blue Demons to four Conference USA championships, four NCAA regional tournaments and a Women's College World Series appearance in 2000. The Blue Demons finished among the nation's top-20 from 2000-2003 with Chouinard on the mound, ranking seventh, 19th, 11th and ninth. In 2003, the Blue Demon pitching staff had the third lowest ERA (0.83) in the nation and in 2002, Chouinard ranked second individually in ERA with a 0.47 mark.
Chouinard, a native of Fresno, Calif., was honored nationally as a three-time NCAA All-American, two-time NCAA Regional MVP and two-time CoSIDA Academic All-American for her efforts on the field and in the classroom. She was a finalist for the National Player of the Year honor in 2003. In Conference USA, Chouinard was a four-time first-team all-conference honoree, Player of the Year in 2003 and Pitcher of the Year in 2002 and 2003. Chouinard holds 10 of the 13 DePaul pitching records, including career marks for wins with 108 and strikeouts with 858.
After Chouinard finished her collegiate career, she was the second overall pick by the Texas Thunder in the National Pro Fastpitch Softball League (NPFSL) 2003 draft. After helping the Thunder win the regular season championship in her first year, Chouinard signed with the Chicago Bandits in 2005 where she was named to the league's all-star team after notching a 9-1 record for the regular season champions.
Chouinard graduated from DePaul in 2003 with a degree in finance and completed her MBA at DePaul with a finance concentration in May 2007.