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Tyra Perry's Impressive Journey

Updated: Apr 22, 2022

By Will Charlton

URBANA, Ill. -- Tyra Perry, the head softball coach here, has been coaching for over 20 years.

She took over for the Illini back in 2015 and became the second coach to ever lead the program after former coach Terri Sullivan.

In her time so far at the helm of the Illini, she has an overall record of 207-132. That record includes an impressive 27-15 tally that the team currently has.

She's had quite the successful tenure overall as well, but if she had done something different with her life when she was younger, that tenure wouldn't exist.

"Well I was originally in nursing," said Perry. "My freshman and sophomore year [in college] I was taking my prerequisites at Nicholls State for nursing and I had actually completed those prerequisites and was about to apply for nursing school."

But those plans to become a nurse got put to the side when she heard some news from her head softball coach at the time.

"He took us to the side after regionals," said Perry. "We'd won our conference the Southland Conference my sophomore year and he told us 'Hey good job, way to go. But by the way I'm leaving to go to LSU to start that program there.'"

So her journey as a player ended up at LSU since she followed her coach there. It also brought her closer to home since she's originally from Louisiana.

But being at LSU and helping start the program made her realize a change of career plan could be in sight.

"It was myself and one other player that was there a year before LSU got started," said Perry. "So we had to host every kid that came through."

By being that involved that early in the program, she got a sense of what coaching could be like since she was involved with so much of the recruiting process as a player. It really opened her eyes that she might be meant to be a coach.

"I shifted into kinesiology and chose pretty much from there the thought of coaching," Perry said. "But I did not know if I wanted to coach softball because in high school I played basketball and volleyball as well."

It also helped that she had coaches in the family; her dad being one of them. She definitely had strong family influence to want to become a coach.

It's safe to say that influence put her in a great place though since she is now a top-tier softball coach; she's collected accolades that prove it as well.

She's a two-time Sun Belt Conference coach of the year while she was at Western Kentucky and she is also a one-time Mid-American Conference coach of the year while she was with Ball State.

"I'm going to do my best to make my team the strongest that it can possibly be and the toughest it can possibly be," said Perry. "I think those awards tend to take care of themselves when you do your best."

That winning mentality has proven very well for her considering her success to this point. Then going off that, she recently picked up her 200th win as head coach here; but she is not the only one responsible for getting there.

"I can't get to 200, I can't get to one without my staff and players and the support of our

administration," Perry said.

Her squad currently sits at 27-15 as previously mentioned and are in the heat of Big Ten play. They are 11-2 in the last 13 games as well.


Story photo courtesy of Libby Knight/Fighting Illini Athletics

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