There are few people who know the Omaha softball community better than Mike Heard. A Louisville High School graduate, Heard has been involved in coaching in the area at nearly every level. Now he’ll take on a new role in that softball community, as Heard has been named the ninth head coach in Omaha program history.
“I’ve been around softball in Omaha and Nebraska for so many years, so to have the opportunity to lead this program and help represent the city of Omaha and everybody in the softball community, it’s just an honor,” Heard said.
Heard takes over the reins at Omaha after spending six years in Fremont as the head coach at Midland. During his tenure with the Warriors, his teams compiled a 147-92 record and won a share of the GPAC title in 2018 and 2019. They were outright GPAC champions last spring. He was also the GPAC Coach of the Year three times in that span.
Besides the difficult decision to leave behind his team and the relationships at Midland, Heard said there wasn’t much hesitation in jumping at the offer. The hiring process was a smooth one, as Heard described the position as close to a dream job for him.
“I’ve been a fan of the program and have always wanted to see the program succeed here, so I’m excited to lead this program now,” Heard said. “This was a job I looked at and considered a dream job for a long time—especially with my ties to the city of Omaha.”
Before taking the Midland job, Heard spent three seasons as the head coach at Marion High School. He was also the head coach for the Nebraska Fury Fastpitch/Gold travel team for 10 seasons. Heard has been involved with the Nebraska Fury Fastpitch program since 2005 altogether.
Those connections are something he hopes will help in the transition into this job and translate to success on the field.
Another big factor in taking the job was Connie Claussen Field, something the head coach said is a “game-changer” for the program.
“The facility is unbelievable and that was one of the most exciting parts of this position for me,” he said. “It’s obvious they really took their time and did it right. It’s honestly a facility you can really put up against just about anyone out there.
“I also put a lot of importance on the experience that student-athletes get while they’re in school and really want them to enjoy their time with their sport. You always want them to walk away after four years, no matter what happened on the field, thinking they had a great experience. And I think a facility like this really plays into and adds to that experience.”
The job does present quite the jump for the first-year Division I head coach from the NAIA level at Midland. However, it’s something that hasn’t really crossed his mind.
As someone who’s no stranger to coaching, Heard said his initial focus will be on being competitive in the conference and getting a feel for his program. As cliche as it may sound, he says the biggest thing he’s learned over the years is you have to stay process-oriented.
More than anything though, no matter the results, he wants to put a product on the field that’s reflective of the school and softball in the city.
“I will consider our program a representation of Omaha and the softball community, and that’s something we’ll focus on,” Heard said. “I’m passionate about the game and we hope to represent everyone in the best possible way we can.”
Although that representation won’t start on the field until next spring, Heard is eager to get to work right away. He becomes the first hire under current Interim Athletic Director Mike Kemp. It’s still surreal, but that dream job is now a reality.
“This opportunity truly is life-changing for me,” Heard said. “This was a destination job for me and that’s honestly how I see it. I’ve always considered this a destination job because of my connections locally and with the softball community in Omaha, and I’m honored to have the opportunity to lead this program.”