Officials at Northeastern A&M College (NEO) have named the softball field in honor of its winningest coach. It was announced at the end of dedication ceremonies for the renovated complex that it would be called Iverson Field, in honor of longtime Norse softball coach Eric Iverson, and Alumni Stadium. “I really don’t know what to say,” said Iverson, who was caught off-guard by the event, which was moved into the NEO Field House after rain washed out Saturday’s scheduled Oklahoma Collegiate Athletic Conference double-header against Northern Oklahoma-Enid.
More than $140,000 was spent on the improvements, which included covered stands and a new press box. An “Iverson Field” sign with two plaques featuring a photo of Iverson and background information on Coach Iverson’s accomplishments will be added to the front gate of the complex. “With the new facility we have, we really believe that this will give us, if not the best, but one of the best junior college softball facilities in Oklahoma,” Athletic Director Dale Patterson said.
Invitations to the event included the stipulation that Iverson not be told of what was happening. But he thought something special might happen because of those in attendance. “I knew when my brother, Danny, showed up that something was going on,” Iverson quipped. “It was a little bit of a gimme.”
Iverson, in his 20th season at NEO, is the winningest coach in school history with an 880-213 record. He ranks fourth nationally among active NJCAA Division-1 coaches and is 10th on the all-time win list. Iverson ranks first among active coaches in winning percentage at .817. The Norse softball program has played in 13 Region II championship games under Iverson, qualifying for the national tournament six times. NEO finished third in 2000, fourth in 2007 and fifth in 2012 and ’13.
Since Iverson took over the NEO program in 1996, there have been 82 Region II first-teamers. He’s coached 23 NJCAA All-Americans, including three first team selections (Candace Handley, 2007; Megan Sullivan, 2012, and Raven Campos, 2014). In 2007 NEO tied a NJCAA national record with five All-American selections. Iverson, who was inducted into the NJCAA Softball Hall of Fame in 2009, has served as both president and vice president of the NJCAA National Softball Coaches Association.
“To think that forever, my name is going to be part of this campus is so humbling and so awesome,” he said. “I can’t thank Dr. Hale (NEO President Dr. Jeff Hale) and the administration and the people of NEO who I have come in contact with enough. It’s a huge honor.”
The NEO program was launched in 1977 by the late Rose Wilkins. Tim Livesay, John Kurtz, Bob Maxwell and Woody Morrow were the coaches before Iverson took over. In 39 years, the school has played 1,828 games, winning 1,409 of those. “This is a big day for NEO softball, not for the head coach, not for our current players. This is a big day for all of our softball program, for our alumni, the former parents, our community and the softball community of Miami,” Iverson said.