By Tori Sisson
AUBURN, Ala. - Chris Steiner-Wilcoxson's success as an Auburn student-athlete continued in her coaching career.
Steiner-Wilcoxson's time at Auburn was full of firsts—she was a starter for Auburn's inaugural softball team in 1997, recording the first home run in Tiger history. After graduating from Auburn, her career has taken a similar trajectory.
The head softball coach at Alabama State University, Steiner-Wilcoxson was also responsible for the development of the softball program at Auburn University at Montgomery. Her AUM program reached the pinnacle, winning the NAIA national championship in 2014.
Steiner-Wilcoxson feels her experience at Auburn has been instrumental in her life - both professionally and personally.
"I grew up an Auburn fan my whole life," she says. "Some of my family had already gone to Auburn. My uncle was a cheerleader there in the '80s, and my grandfather's sister went to school there back when it wasn't even called Auburn."
She began her college career at Huntingdon College, since Auburn did not have a softball program at the time.
The stars aligned for Steiner-Wilcoxson when Auburn hired Huntingdon coach Tina Deese to build the Tigers program. Chris did not let the opportunity pass her by, following her coach to the Plains.
"When Coach Deese got the job at Auburn, she took me with her," Chris says.
Steiner-Wilcoxson's expectations of Auburn did not fall short. "The whole four years I was there was an awesome memory," she says.
One of her most memorable moments? That first homer. "That was a pretty neat thing," she says. "We were in Coastal Carolina when that happened."
Another special moment occurred when Jane B. Moore Field debuted in 1998.
"My junior year was our first games on the field they currently play on," she says. "That was pretty neat to be a part of that."
Being a fundamental part of the first three years of the Auburn Softball program did more than provide Steiner-Wilcoxson with stories to tell her children, she also received a valuable education in program building.
"I got to help with recruiting, and help with getting the program started and going," says Steiner-Wilcoxson. "That experience alone has helped me start the program at AUM and turn the program around at ASU."
As the head coach of a Division I program, Steiner-Wilcoxson's team plays annually against her alma mater.
"Kind of surreal because it's been 20 years now since the first team, and I got to be on my own field where it all kind of started for me," she says.
"My time at Auburn has led to my coaching career, and where I've been able to go, and where I've been. I've been a part of starting two brand new programs and I've been a part of history now at ASU, and it all kind of started back at Auburn," Steiner-Wilcoxson says. "Everything kind of comes full circle. It's been a really neat experience."
Steiner-Wilcoxson believes her experience as a student-athlete at Auburn has helped off the field as well. "You had to multi-task, you had to have priorities, you had to be responsible," she says. "I think it all works hand-in-hand because it is a very trying time, there are lots of obstacles, and every day in life we're competing.
"I think that perseverance that you're taught, the determination that you're taught as a college athlete carries on every day in our daily lives, especially in adulthood and we're responsible for other people, and your own children and your own family," Chris says. "You are taught those things not realizing you're being taught. You're thinking, 'Oh it's about softball,' but it's really not.
"It's been great. I'm forever thankful, and a big Auburn fan and big supporter. I thoroughly have enjoyed it."