A familiar face will return to the Duncan Lady Demons softball dugout. Robert Cowan accepted and the district will most likely hire him at the next school board meeting scheduled for Tuesday, June 16.
Cowan, who retired after the 2016-2017 school year, was asked by Duncan Athletic Coordinator Bobby Cook if he wanted to come back after Coach Jeremy Bates left the Lady Demons softball program.
Cook said the decision for Bates leaving was an academic and financial based decision from the district. He asked Cowan if he wanted to return and it took a little convincing.
“Bobby Cook, the athletic director called me and asked me my thoughts about taking softball back over and initially I couldn’t wrap my thoughts around it,” Cowan said. “As I talked to my wife about it and I talked to a couple of people, I decided to lets try it again and see how it goes. I know we have some work to do and I watched them play a couple of times last year and I know we have a lot of work to do and I’m looking forward to the challenge and I hope the girls are as well.”
Cowan, who took Duncan to 10 state tournament appearances out of his 12 years there, hired his former assistant Eddie Mullins to take the same role for the 2020 Lady Demons softball team.
Along with Mullins returning, Cowan said even though last year’s Lady Demons team had a low win-loss record, his expectations are high for the 2020 season.
“First of all, I have hired Eddie Mullins who was a former assistant of mine and he helped me before so Eddie is coming back to help me and I’m looking forward to working with Eddie,” Cowan said. “Coach Bates and Coach Knapp, I think they are both good softball people, I really do and I think they are good people and know softball, but sometimes things just don’t fit, for whatever reason things don’t work out. I hope the girls have high expectations because I do and I know their record last year wasn’t really good and that is not any reflection on what we can do this year and I hope they are expecting more because I’m expecting more.”
The Lady Demons will have a mix of players returning, including a wide range of classifications. Cowan said he thinks this senior class will work hard going into 2020.
“I have always said if you want to give me 10 freshman that are willing to work, I’d just as soon have 10 freshman than 10 seniors because sometimes it is not easy to get the seniors to work. I really believe that this senior class has something to prove that they can win,” Cowan said. “I think there is four or five freshman who are coming in that are playing this summer some softball and I hope everyone’s expectations are good. You never know what is going to happen and I think if we put the work in then I think having some senior leadership is important. I think there are four to six girls that are seniors and the best way to lead is by example and that is the best way to lead so hopefully the seniors will get out to work and everyone else will follow.”
Currently, the plan for Duncan Public Schools is to allow athletes in small groups to return June 15 with full workouts for softball possibly beginning July 15.
Cowan said his expectation is what he had several years ago — to win and get the program back to where he had it. That means competing for state championships.
“I think once you teach kids how to win they can win,” Cowan said. “That is hard if someone has been beat down and if you ever accept losing, it is hard to learn how to win again. … If I look all the way down to the seventh grade, I know there are a lot of young softball players in Duncan that play a lot of tournament softball.
“There are two groups of girls that are playing summer softball that want to make the state tournament,” he said. “I think we made state tournament 10 out of 12 years and that is where I want to get this program. Every year we were in contention and that is where I want this program back. The numbers are going up and I want to see the program get back to where they are competing for the state championship and you have to make the state tournament so that is my goal — to compete in the state tournament.”
Cowan’s hire is on the agenda for the Duncan Board of Education meeting scheduled June 16.