BERKELEY, Calif. – Jocelyn Forest, the tiny but tenacious ace who led Cal softball to an NCAA Championship amidst personal tragedy. Kristina Thorson, affectionately known by some as “Goth Girl” for the intimidating black eyeliner she sported in the circle. Jolene Henderson, whose killer smile masked an even deadlier changeup. For all the characters that have shuffled through the Cal bullpen throughout the years, there’s always been one constant.
For 21 seasons John Reeves has been a fixture among the Golden Bears, always ready with a punny joke from the latest issue of Reader’s Digest, a heartwarming story about his beloved Portuguese Water Dog the late Mr. MacGregor, or a pitching tip for anyone with the willingness to learn.
On July 1, Reeves, the longtime pitching coach for the Cal softball squad, will officially retire.
“I’m just really appreciative of the opportunity to have coached at a great Division I softball program and a great school in the University of California,” Reeves said. “I was able to meet and interact with so many good people in the sport and at Cal throughout the years, and I’m grateful for those memories.”
In his more than two decades on the Cal staff, Reeves helped the Bears to a 928-428 record (.684 winning percentage), including 10 trips to the Women’s College World Series, 20 postseason berths and two conference titles along with 123 All-Conference and 47 Pac-12 All-Academic laurels. Under his tutelage, Cal’s pitchers claimed three conference Pitcher of the Year honors and 13 All-America selections.
“I want to thank John for his long-standing tenure and service to Cal,” said California head coach Diane Ninemire. “Over the last two decades he has done an outstanding job with our pitching program as we’ve produced Olympians, All-Americans and professional players, and we’ve been able to recruit and mentor some great pitchers.”
Reeves joined Ninemire’s staff in 1994 and immediately made an impact, coaching Whitney Floyd to three All-Pac-10 and two NFCA All-American selections.
He replicated the success with Forest from 1999-2002, grooming her to lead Cal to the WCWS all four seasons of her career. During the team’s 2002 championship run, the 5-4 ace posted a spotless 8-0 record in the postseason, tossing a one hitter in the title-clinching game against defending national champion Arizona.
Three-time All-American Thorson continued Reeves’ coaching legacy from 2003-06 by posting an incredible 102-26 record and Cal’s first Pac-10 Pitcher of the Year accolade. Thorson went on to play with teams in both the Italian professional league and the National Pro Fastpitch (NPF) circuit.
Also among Reeves’ most well-known disciples of late are USA National Team member Valerie Arioto (2008-12) and Henderson (2010-13). Arioto and Henderson teamed up to take the Bears to the postseason each year of their careers, including two WCWS berths. Arioto finished her career as a three-time All-American and 2012 Pac-12 player of the year for her work both in the circle and at the plate.
Under Reeves’ watch, Henderson became Cal’s winningest pitcher in program history, amassing a 130-35 record with a myriad of honors that included two conference Pitcher of the Year titles and three All-America selections. Henderson was drafted third overall by the Chicago Bandits in the 2013 NPF draft and is wrapping up her first season for Denso in Japan.
During his time with the Bears, Reeves was a member the 2002 NFCA Coaching Staff of the Year, 2011 NFCA Pacific Region Coaching Staff of the Year and 2012 Easton Team of the Year. Off the diamond, he has presented numerous clinics on pitching techniques and strategies, including the NFCA Softball Exposure Camp.
“We wish John all the best and congratulate him on his retirement, and we look forward to continuing John’s legacy and the legacy of Cal softball,” Ninemire said.