KENNESAW, Ga. – A three-year letter winner at the University of Missouri, Alyssa Cousins joined the Kennesaw State softball program in October of 2016. She became became the first hire for head coach Pete D'Amour, who was named head coach on Sept. 16.
"Alyssa will play a vital role in the success of the Kennesaw softball program. She is one of the smartest players I have ever coached. She can teach the game, pays attention to detail, and most importantly, AC has always earned the respect of her teammates and coaches," D'Amour said. "I thank her for believing in our vision for where we want to take Kennesaw State softball, and am looking forward to working with her."
Cousins joins the Owls' coaching staff after one year at Grayson College where she served the dual role of assistant softball coach and residential advisor.
"I am extremely excited and blessed that Pete chose me to be part of this move in his career," Cousins said. "He brought me to Missouri and now I am tagging along to Georgia, and I couldn't imagine working for a better person. I cannot wait to be part of another winning program here at Kennesaw State."
During her career at Mizzou, Cousins was a member of three Tigers teams that posted a cumulative record of 123-48 (.719), made three NCAA Division I regional appearances, two Super Regional showings and earned three Top 15 final national rankings.
In addition to her efforts on the field, Cousins was a three-time Academic Honor Roll honoree.
Born in Fort Ord, Calif., Cousins attended Newman Smith High School in Carrolton, Texas where she was named district Catcher of the Year in 2009 and 2011 and first team all-district in 2008 and 2010. She earned a bachelor's degree in parks, recreation and tourism, with an emphasis in sport management, from the University of Missouri in 2015.
Regarded as one of the premier pitching coaches in the country, Doug Gillis was hired as pitching coach by Kennesaw State head coach Pete D’Amour on Jan. 25, 2017.
"One constant in the always evolving game of softball is that good pitching keeps you in every ball game. It was imperative that I brought in a pitching coach that has a track record of developing upper level pitchers and nobody fits that bill better than Doug,” D’Amour said. “Not only has he developed pitchers that have pitched on the USA National team, he pitched on the USA National Men's Fastpitch team for a number of years.
“The addition of Doug to our staff will immediately improve our current pitching staff and establishes Kennesaw State as a destination where pitchers can come and improve year after year,” D’Amour added. “He had the opportunity to join a couple of Top 15 coaching staffs this last summer and we're very fortunate that he chose to be an Owl."
Gillis joins the Owls after spending the last eight years on the coaching staff at the University of Missouri. He spent the 2015 and 2016 seasons as head pitching coach after serving the previous six campaigns as director of pitching for the Tigers.
In addition to his role at Missouri, Gillis founded the Gillis Fastpitch University in 1986 where he mentored seven USA Team members, three USA Team Olympic Gold Medalists, 20 collegiate All-Americans and eight players who pitched in the Women’s College World Series.
"I am really excited to be at Kennesaw State and a part of building a great softball program,” Gillis said. “The facilities here are second to none, and I'm fortunate to be working with Pete D'Amour, who is one of the hardest-working college coaches in the country."
While at Missouri, Gillis coached three first-team NCAA Division I All-Americans, a Big 12 Conference Pitcher of the Year, an SEC Pitcher of the Year and SEC Freshman Pitcher of the Year. During Gillis’ tenure, the Tigers made three Women’s College World Series appearances, six Super Regional showings, and advanced to eight NCAA postseason tournaments.
Prior to his time at Missouri, Gillis served as associate head coach at Saginaw Valley State from 1986 to 1991, and in 1989 helped lead the Cardinals to the NAIA national championship.
Gillis has taken his pitching knowledge overseas, coaching internationally and winning the 1990 New Zealand national championship. He has also conducted clinics in numerous countries, including the Dominican Republic, Cayman Islands, Canada, and Netherlands.
An accomplished fastpitch softball player himself in four decades, Gillis is a six-time USA Team member, two-time International Softball Congress All-World selection and six-time ASA major All-American. He was the starting pitcher in the championship game of the 2002 Pan-American Championships, leading the USA to the gold medal.
Gillis was also a part of the silver-medalist winning team at the 2003 Pan American Championships, and was the winning pitcher in the gold medal game at the 1999 U.S. Olympic Festival.
Gillis earned an associate’s degree in business from Delta College in 1986, and studied management at Northwood University.
Volunteer Assistant Coach
Alysha Stanton begins her first season as a volunteer assistant coach after being named to the position by Kennesaw State head coach Pete D’Amour.
Stanton joins the Owls following a successful four-year playing career at Georgia Tech where she was a two-time All-ACC first team selection and a four-time All-ACC Academic Team honoree. She was also named to the ACC Academic Honor Roll four times, selected a 2014 Senior CLASS Second Team All-American, Senior CLASS Award finalist, and an ACC Post-Graduate Scholarship recipient.
Stanton hit over .300 in three of her four seasons, including a career-best .399 average as junior in 2013, and concluded her career ranking in or near the top 10 in several offensive categories. She ranks fourth in Yellow Jackets history with a .636 slugging percentage after totaling 202 hits, including 44 home runs and 42 doubles.
As a senior, Stanton batted .341 with 29 runs scored and a team-leading 42 RBIs, while also topping the club and ranking 10th in the ACC with 11 home runs. She was tabbed All-ACC First Team after placing second on the team and in the ACC with a .399 average. She also established career highs with 59 hits, 44 runs scored, 15 doubles and 49 RBIs, while twice being named ACC Player of the Week.
During her sophomore season, Stanton recorded a .289 batting average, a team-leading 50 hits, 34 runs scored, nine home runs and 35 RBIs. She produced an impressive rookie season, starting all 57 games and batting .312 with 30 runs scored, eight doubles, a career-high 16 home runs and 39 RBIs.
Born in Decatur, Ga., Stanton was a four-year letter winner at Buford High School in Buford, Ga. where she helped the Wolves to state titles in 2007, 2008 and 2009. She was tabbed by ESPN Rise as the 16th-best high school senior in the nation. She was a four-time all-state and all-region catcher, and two-time Georgia Coaches Association and Gwinnett County Player of the Year, and concluded her career as the school’s all-time career leader in triples and RBIs. Stanton also was a part of two state championships while a member of the Buford basketball team.
A 2014 Georgia Tech graduate with a degree in business administration, the former Alysha Rudnik, married former Yellow Jackets baseball player Devin Stanton on January 10, 2015.
Athletic Training Intern
Hillary Dreyfus joins Kennesaw State as an athletic training intern after graduating from University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a Masters of Science in Athletic Training. She will work with the softball program for the upcoming season.
While in school at UTC, Dreyfus assisted in the implementation of all aspects of athletic training with the men’s basketball program and football program at Chattanooga, a Division III collegiate men’s and women’s basketball and baseball program and a high school football, volleyball, softball, baseball and women’s tennis through an athletic training student rotational program.
Dreyfus played soccer at Birmingham-Southern College from 2010-14.
Ryan Meehan serves as a graduate assistant under the sports performance department at Kennesaw State. He will be working closely with the softball, men’s and women’s tennis, women’s golf and the spirit squad for the Department of Athletics.
Meehan comes from Oxford, Mississippi, where he was the strength and conditioning intern at The University of Mississippi. He assisted strength coaches with student-athletes that competed for baseball, softball, track and field, men’s tennis, women’s basketball and women’s volleyball. Meehan also helped with weight training and conditioning, set-up and breakdown of the weight room and programming and projects in the training facilities.
Prior to his time at Mississippi, Meehan served as a total athletic performance coach and a football strength coach for Portsmouth High School in the summers of 2015 and 2016. He handled the strength training to 60 youth athletes, ranging from 12-18 years old, and also handled over 20 football players on the freshmen high school squad.
In May 2016, he received his Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science at Mississippi. Meehan has his CSCS certification through the National Strength and Conditioning Association and also his Adult First, CPR and AED certifications.
Athletic Academic Advisor
Thomas Strause enters his third year as an athletics academic counselor at Kennesaw State University and will be working with the soccer, lacrosse and women's basketball teams.
Prior to joining the Owls, Strause most recently served as the interim assistant athletics director for academics at Coppin State University (CSU) in Baltimore, Maryland where he monitored the academic progress of all NCAA Division I CSU student-athletes, including 14 NCAA Division I teams and approximately 150 student-athletes. He also provided course advisement, academic support and career and personal guidance for the men’s and women’s basketball and baseball teams. Strause also spent the 2013-14 academic year as an academic counselor before his promotion to interim assistant athletics director.
Strause started his career in academics as an academic graduate assistant (AGA) at the University of Kentucky, from 2011 to 2013, earning a master’s degree in kinesiology and health promotion with an emphasis in Sport Leadership in 2013. His responsibilities in Lexington included working with several Olympic sports and the men’s and women’s basketball teams. In addition, he served as the AGA in charge of the academic center one night per week and assisted the Life Skills Coordinator with directing the career development, personal development and community service programs.
He earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Kentucky in 2010. He is a member of the National Association of Academic Advisors for Athletics (N4A) and serves the organization as the committee chairman on the legislative services committee.
A native of Sandwich, Ill., Strause currently resides in Acworth.
Director of Character Development
Sterling Brown is the director of character development at Kennesaw State University. He is responsible for helping student-athletes develop the fundamentals of character that will serve and guide them throughout and following their playing careers.
A former student-athlete, Brown was a four-year starter, two time All-Conference selection at wide receiver on the University of Richmond football team and also played one season of baseball for the Spiders.
Since graduating from college, he has spent the last 22 years mentoring and developing leaders in the world of athletics. As a former assistant director of strength & conditioning at Florida State, overseas missionary, campus minister and pastor, even chaplain for an NHL team, he brings a breadth of experience and depth of passion into his work every day with student athletes, coaches and leaders.
A native of Fort Lee, N.J., Sterling and his wife of 18 years, Myssi, live in the Kennesaw/Acworth area with their four children, Jaden, Mya, Levi & Destiny.