2021 SOFTBALL INDUCTEE
Kim Maher was not born in the United States. A native of Vietnam, she came to this country when she was two months old. Her dad was a contractor, and the family spent time in New York and Louisiana before eventually moving to California.
Maher grew up in Ventura. She has one brother, and they both play sports. He, who Maher refers to as the “brains,” played football and baseball. She, the self-described “brawn,” played soccer and softball.
In high school, Kim Maher was a pitcher. A natural infielder, Maher says she only pitched because there was no one else to play the position. She left as her school’s all-time leader in wins.
At Fresno State, Kim Maher transitioned back to the infield. She played first base her freshman year, then moved over to shortstop as a sophomore. From 1991 through 1994, Kim Maher appeared in 263 games. A second-team all-American as a senior, she was a four-time all-conference player who left as the program’s all-time leader in home runs (31), RBI (181), runs (162), and doubles (49).
In 1993, Maher was Fresno State’s Female Athlete of the Year. Ironically, it was the only year during her four-year career in which the Bulldogs did not advance to the Women’s College World Series.
Kim Maher enjoyed her time at Fresno State. She fondly remembers the community, specifically the Diamond Club. And she was proud to share the international stage with several Bulldogs at the 1996 Olympics, where she played left field on the gold medal-winning team.
Laura Berg, Julie Smith, Shelly Stokes, and Margie Wright (assistant coach) were also on that team.
Maher, who cried on the podium, joked that she was actually hoping to make the Olympic team four years later, in 2000.
After her playing career ended, Kim Maher transitioned into coaching. She was an assistant at Cal for six years (with six appearances in the Women’s College World Series and one national championship), followed by eight years as the head coach at Purdue (where she led the school to its first-ever appearance in the NCAA Tournament). Since 2016, she has been the head coach at Southwestern Oklahoma State.
Maher said she actually knew in high school that she wanted to be a coach.
“I learned how to fight for the players and the program,” she said.