Head softball coach honored for contributions to amateur sports
Tom Cross, assistant director of student life and head coach of the Blue Knights NJCAA fastpitch softball team at Dakota County Technical College, was inducted into the Saint Thomas Academy Athletic Hall of Fame. Tom was honored at the 2017 Induction Ceremony and Dinner at Sjoberg/Flynn Arena on the Saint Thomas Academy campus Friday, September 29.
Tom began coaching softball at DCTC in 2011. The Blue Knights went on to win the 2013 NJCAA Region 13 Championship. That same year, Tom was named Region 13 Coach of The Year. The Blue Knights turned in back-to-back, 21-win seasons in 2013 and 2014. In 2014 and 2016, the team was Region 13 runner-up. Tom has coached 10 All-Region players at DCTC as well as the program’s first NJCAA All-American in softball, Amanda Orrell in 2014.
About the STA Athletic Hall of Fame
The STA Alumni Association created the Athletic Hall of Fame at STA to instill and preserve pride in the rich tradition of Saint Thomas Academy by celebrating the outstanding athletic accomplishments or contributions to the athletic history and traditions of the Academy by alumni athletes, their coaches, directors, advisors, and loyal supporters.
— Courtesy of Saint Thomas Academy
Tom graduated from Saint Thomas Academy in 1975. His military rank at the academy was major. He excelled in football, playing offensive and defensive tackle for the Cadets. In 1973 and 1974, the Cadets were Central Catholic Conference champions. Tom earned All-Conference honors in 1973 as an offensive tackle. The next year, the team went 8–1, winning the Missota Conference. Tom was team captain that year and was named All-Conference defensive tackle. He also played baseball at STA, helping the Cadets win the CCC championship in 1975.
“Saint Thomas Academy is an incredible high school academically,” Tom said. “The Class of 1975 had ninety-nine graduates and ninety-eight went on to college.”
Tom attended the University of Minnesota in 1975 and 1976, playing football for the Gophers. He was 1975 Scout Player of the Year. In 1977, he attended Inver Hills Community College, playing football and baseball for the Giants. He made NJCAA First Team All-American as an offensive guard. He transferred to the University of Toledo and was starting offensive guard on the football team.
Tom has played amateur baseball for nearly two decades; he’s played fastpitch softball for more than 15 years. He also boxed Golden Gloves as a heavyweight from 1976 to 1978.
Tom has coached at 15 different schools over the span of nearly 40 years. He has coached at all levels in three different sports, football, basketball and fastpitch softball.
Tom is a 1987 graduate of Concordia College, St. Paul (renamed Concordia University, St. Paul, in 1996), earning a B.A. in Communications. He served as head football coach and head softball coach at Concordia from 1983–1997. His accomplishments at Concordia include:
- UMAC Champions: 1988 and 1991
- UMAC Coach Of The Year: 1988 and 1997
- 12 straight conference championships: 1984–1993
- NAIA National Tournament appearance: 1987
- Most career wins in school history: 273
Tom continued his coaching career at Macalester College, serving as assistant football coach and offensive coordinator from 1998 to 2005 and head softball coach from 2002 to 2010. In 2008, the softball team received NFCA First Place All-Academic Team honors.
At the secondary level, Tom has coached at a number of schools, including St. Agnes, Brady, Cretin-Derham Hall, Johnson, Eagan, Farmington, Saint Thomas Academy, Harding and Hastings. His teams have won state, region and conference championships
- Concordia University Athletic Hall Of Fame
- Mancini Athletic Hall Of Fame
- Saint Thomas Academy Hall Of Fame
- Mike Augustin Scholarship Fund Coordinator: 1997–2017
- Played Santa Claus for 25 years
- Coached Steve Walsh at Cretin-Derham Hall, QB and national champion at University of Miami, Ring of Honor, 11-year career in NFL
- Hired and coached with Mike Mularkey at Concordia College, current head coach of Tennessee Titans
Tom Cross gallery
Tom Cross Q & A
What person has influenced you the most in life?
My coaches and teachers at Saint Thomas Academy
What is your greatest accomplishment in life so far?
Making sure the players I’ve coached have a good experience and improve.
Your greatest challenge?
The grind of winning for a coach is the toughest challenge.
Three words that describe you as a coach:
ENTHUSIASTIC. DEMANDING. FAIR.
What’s the most rewarding game you’ve ever coached?
Fastpitch softball regional playoffs in 1987: Concordia against the University of Minnesota, Duluth—a definite David vs Goliath match-up. We had to win three games that day to advance to NAIA National Tournament in Nebraska. We ended up beating Duluth 2–1 and 3–2 thanks to great pitching and timely hitting. We also beat Winona State. One pitcher pitched all 21 innings for us. That was an incredible experience.
What’s your greatest strength as a coach?
Knowledge of the game and the ability to work with people.
“I strongly believe in a well-rounded student-athlete who prepares hard and competes hard while developing awareness for the real world and its challenges. I believe the development of skill, concentration, commitment and chemistry is everything in creating a successful program.”
— Tom Cross, Head Coach, DCTC Fastpitch Softball
What coach has influenced your coaching style the most?
Gerry Brown at STA (athletic director and football, baseball and track coach at STA, Gerry Brown Stadium named for him) and Dennis Denning at Cretin-Derham Hall (legendary University of St. Thomas head baseball coach)
Who’s the best athlete you’ve ever coached?
I’ve coached some great athletes—Sandi Hammes (Concordia softball), Denise Varland (Concordia softball), Jim Rubbelke (Concordia football) and Steve Walsh at (Cretin-Derham Hall football).
More about Tom…
Along with his head coaching and Student Life duties at DCTC, Tom serves as assistant varsity football coach at Hastings High School and assistant varsity basketball coach at Farmington High School. Originally from St. Paul, he resides in Rosemount, Minnesota.
“I have only one simple rule in life,” Tom said. “Be the best you can be and be a good person—and you’ll be a success no matter what you do.”
To learn more about Student Life, NJCAA sports and fastpitch softball at DCTC, contact:
Assistant Director of Student Life
Head Fastpitch Softball Coach