Panther Softball Academy

Panther Softball Academy

Coaching Staff

Buddy Foster
Head Coach

Head Coach Buddy Foster begins his 2nd season at the helm of the Panther softball program. After being hired in the Fall of 2016, he led the 2017 team to its 2nd consecutive SLIAC Tournament Championship and a berth in the NCAA Tournament in Whitewater, WI.  The team finished the season with a 24-17 overall record and recorded a 2nd place finish in the SLIAC regular season with a 14-4 mark. Foster coached 7 All-SLIAC players last season, led by All-Midwest Region honorees, Tiffany Samsoe, Becca Oldham and Kate Jolliff. In addition, the Panther softball team performed at a high level in the classroom finishing with a 3.55 team GPA with 12-19 team members being named NFCA Scholar Athletes.

Foster's coaching career began at his alma-mater Southeast Missouri State University.  He had three different tenures at SEMO.  He began as a student assistant from 1988-1990.  In 1993, he spent one season as a graduate assistant.  He became a full-time staff member in 1997 and spent two seasons with the Red Hawks.  During his time on staff the softball team went 100-45, winning two regular season Ohio Valley Conference Championships.  The Red Hawks also won the OVC Conference Tournament in 1998 and 1999 and participated in two NCAA Division 1 tournaments. While in Cape Girardeau he coached 14 All-OVC Conference winners, two OVC Players of the Year and two Academic All-Americans.

In 1999, Foster’s career moved him to Southern Illinois University where he spent six seasons.  During his time in Carbondale, three of those teams advanced to the NCAA Division I tournament, and the 2005 squad went to the Sweet Sixteen. While coaching the Salukis, the program rose to a Top 25 program, finishing both the 2004 and 2005 season in the final ranking.  The team complied a record of 239-103 during his tenure.  Foster coached 26 All-Missouri Valley Conference team members and three Academic All-Americans.

Following his tenure at SIUC, he accepted the head softball position at Bradley University for the 2006 season and inherited a program coming off a 16-35 (3-23 Missouri Valley Conference) season.  The turnaround was immediate as the team went 25-23 (10-13 MVC) in his first season, and his 2007 squad went 26-23 to complete back to back winning seasons on the Hilltop for the first time in over 10 years.  In all three seasons the Braves finished ranked in the Top 25 nationally for team GPA with at least a 3.5 or above.
After the stop at Bradley, Foster went to Kansas University as associate head coach for one season before four years as associate head coach at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. While at SIUE he helped transition the softball program from the Division II level to Division I.  The improvement was steady going 27-24 in 2010 and in his last season the team finished with a record of 37-13.  Foster coached 15 All-Ohio Valley Conference members in his four years in Edwardsville.

He returned to SIUC in 2013 for two years as an assistant coach.  After the 2015 season, Foster decided to “retire” from coaching and spent the 2015-16 school year as the Athletic Director at Morthland College.  It did not take him long to discover his true passion was coaching.

"We are very pleased to hire Buddy Foster as our newest head coach," said dean of athletics Doug Faulkner.  "In addition to his wealth of experience as an NCAA Division I softball coach, he was also a great student in our master's degree program in coaching. We look forward to seeing how he ties together faith and sport as he takes the reigns of our softball program."

Foster earned his master's degree from Greenville College in 2014.  He completed a bachelor's degree at Southeast Missouri State University in 1991.

Buddy and his wife, Patty, live in Glen Carbon, IL.

Kylie Strand
Assistant Coach

Kylie Strand joined the Greenville softball program in fall of 2017, after graduating from Fort Hays State University. FHSU is a NCAA Division II school out of Hays, KS.

Kylie ranks among the top 10 all-time in FHSU program history for games played, at bats, runs scored, home runs, and walks. In 2015, Strand received accolades of NFCAA Academic All-American, All-MIAA Honorable Mention, MIAA Softball Academic Honor Roll, and MIAA Scholar-Athlete Award. In both 2016 and 2017, Kylie was on the MIAA Softball Academic Honor Roll.

Strand is from Surprise, Arizona. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Health and Human Performance from FHSU, and is currently working on her master’s degree in Coaching from GU.

Whitney Kessler
Assistant Coach

Whitney has been at GU since July 2011.  She comes to GU after completing her Master's degree from Western Illinois University in 2011 and her undergraduate degree from Culver-Stockton University in 2009. Her duties include prevention, medical care, treatment and rehabilitation of athletic injuries, summer camp coverage and day to day operation of the HJ Long Athletic Training Room.