Aspire Higher Sport has a goal of helping athletes grow mentally and physically while focusing on a winning team mentality. Growing the game of fastpitch softball through instructional and educational programs for both coaches and athletes is also a focus. There will be an emphasis on improving performance by using mental training techniques that will help athletes become more successful in softball and life.
To help young athletes and youth coaches develop the positive mental mindsets that lead to personal and team success in sports and in life.
To help athletes and teams become more successful at playing the game mentally and physically through: individual lessons, skills camps, team camps, and mental skills training and team building clinics.
To help high school athletes, parents, youth organizations, and coaches understand the recruiting process and offer guidance and direction through individual consultation and team recruiting seminars.
Apire Higher will emphasize:
Team concept – the we is more important
than the me.
Be grateful and thankful for your
Always do your best and work to
Academic success is as important as
Be coachable and open to trying new
ways of doing things.
The challenge of the journey is what
makes you who you are.
Strive for excellence in everything
you do, not perfection.
Life and softball are full of ups and downs,
you get to choose how you react to
everything that happens to you.
find the lesson.
Believe in yourself and trust in your abilities,
trust in your teammates, and trust in
your coaches. Team success is built on
faith and trust.
Leadership is earned by setting the standard,
being the example, showing respect, and
influencing others to become better team
Respect the game.
Available Programs :
Coaching Clinics with focus on skill instruction,
team concepts, practice structure, and drills.
One Day Clinics for Athletes – focus on
improving softball skills or mental skills training.
Team Camps – focus on skill development, mental training,
team building, and games.
Showcase Camps – focus on demonstrating and
improving skills while working with college coaches.
Mental Skills Training – instructional sessions with topics
that will help athletes improve their performance;
goal setting, visualization, utilizing routines,
self-talk, focus, making adjustments, improving
confidence, and others.
Team Building – activities designed to help identify
team goals and to bring team members together
Recruiting Information Sessions – education about
the college recruiting process.
Karen Linder , four time MAC Coach of the Year, has created a legacy of athletic and academic excellence
throughout her 33 year career as a head college softball coach. Coach Linder spent 19 years as the head
coach at Division I Kent State University where she accumulated the second most victories of any MAC softball
coach in history and the most for the Golden Flashes. Prior to Kent State, Linder was the head softball coach
at Division II Ashland University for eleven seasons where she also coached basketball for eight years. She
started her head coaching career at NAIA Union College in Kentucky where she coached both softball and
basketball for three years. Throughout her career Coach Linder has won championships, led her teams to top
25 rankings for academics, and received Coach of the Year honors in accumulating 801 career victories.
Linder attributes much of her success for her love of teaching both the mental and physical parts of the game.
“My passion is to teach the game, to help young athletes understand the importance of pursuing academic and
athletic excellence, and to do their best in all areas of their lives. I attribute a lot of my coaching success to the
mental training strategies that I have incorporated into my coaching. I am excited to start working with
younger athletes and to teach the same mental and physical strategies, techniques, and skills that allowed my
college teams to be successful. I want to help kids enjoy their playing experiences.”
My other goal in working with high school athletes is to educate families about the college recruiting process. I
want to help kids and parents understand what it takes to be a successful college softball student athlete and
to help them find a college program that will be a good fit for them academically, athletically, and socially.
With Grand Slam, Karen Linder plans to host skills camps, team camps, and showcases as well as do group
instruction, mental training, and recruiting information seminars.
Coach Linder’s Showcase camp has grown to be the one of the biggest and best in the region. Her showcase
camps have attracted athletes and coaches from all over the USA including participants from California,
Arizona, Texas, Florida, Georgia, New York, New Jersey, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, West Virginia,
Kentucky, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, and Canada.
In her last ten seasons at Kent State, Linder led the Golden Flashes to seven Mid-American Conference East
Division titles with a combined 146-58 mark in conference play. During that time, KSU won four MAC regular
season titles in 2007, 2008, 2010, and 2015 and two MAC Tournament championships in 2006 and 2008
leading to a pair of NCAA Tournament appearances, along with four Coach of the Year honors. Linder’s most
memorable victories came over #3 Michigan, #6 Kentucky, and #15 UCF with pitching standout Emma
Johnson on the mound. Additionally, Linder and KSU made a record setting 12 consecutive MAC tournament
Linder coached 125 NFCA Scholar Athletes during her career and several teams were ranked in the top 20 of
the country for team GPA. In 2013, the Kent State softball team recorded a 3.66 team GPA which ranked
second in the country after being third during the 2012 season. During her last four seasons at Ashland
University, each of her team’s recorded more than 30 wins and were academically and nationally ranked.
Linder’s most unique accomplishment came in 2010 when she passed her father’s, the late Dick Fishbaugh,
career total. Together they have the most wins as father/daughter head coaching duo in NCAA history.
801 - 634 - 2 career record
11 Academic All Americans
6 All Americans
2 NCAA Post Graduate Award Winners
12 Conference Titles
6 Coach of the Year Awards
1 All American
18 All Mideast Region Athletes
7 Academic All Americans
25 Academic All District
50 All MAC Athletes
62 Academic All MAC Athletes
2 NCAA Tournament Appearances
4 MAC Regular Season Titles
7 MAC East Titles
NATIONAL AND CONFERENCE COMMITTEE WORK
Division I: NFCA HCC, NFCA All-American Selection, NCAA Regional Ranking, ESPN Top 25 Poll, MAC
Softball Executive Committee
DII: NCAA National Softball Committee, regional chair
Summit County Softball Hall of Fame
Field of Dreams Award of Distinction
NFCA Career 801 Victories
Otterbein University Excel Award for Coaching
Otterbein University Hall of Fame