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Salt Lake Community College's softball players recognized their coach's commitment to them when Brennan Hogue accompanied his mother to their first team meeting of the school year.

The boy was 2 days old.

Amy Hogue delivered her first child not long after giving birth to an SLCC program that has thrived for 18 seasons. This week, as Hogue's University of Utah team hosts an NCAA regional, the Bruins will take the No. 2 seed into the NJCAA tournament in St. George.

The story of Hogue's 2000-04 SLCC tenure is intertwined with Mary Kay Amicone, who initially was hired to launch the program — and then replaced her five years later when Hogue stepped away to attend to her growing family. In between, Hogue won 70 percent of her games and enjoyed what she labels "the best job I've ever had," with wide-ranging responsibilities.

"She was having to learn everything from dragging the field to emptying the trash to taking care of the equipment," said her mother, Kris Timmel. "She got to experience everything, because she had to do everything."

Hogue, 45, could picture herself returning to the junior college level someday, even as she builds a successful Pac-12 program. She liked how the absence of NCAA restrictions enabled to her to develop stronger relationships with recruits and their families, remaining close to them during their two seasons.

SLCC's teams "felt like a family," she said, "maybe more than a businesslike atmosphere here."

The opportunity in Taylorsville came several months after the former Amy Timmel, an Alta High School product whose name remains prominent in the Ute record books, interviewed for the start-up job. In a developing theme of her career, she lost out to Amicone, her friend and fellow Utah assistant coach, who had more experience. But then BYU announced plans to create a softball program, and Amicone pursued the opening in Provo.

Amicone already was recruiting SLCC players while finishing the season with the Utes. Amicone figured if she got the BYU job, Hogue could fill in for her at SLCC, suggesting, "How cool would that be?"

And that's what happened. Former SLCC athletic director Norma Carr, who started and supported the softball program, hired Hogue to coach the Bruins. The only trouble? Winning came too easily. "We won games right away," Hogue said. "Actually, that was part of the reason I didn't stay long."

That sounds weird, coming from a woman known for once having battled for 11 hours as a freshman second baseman in what's remembered at Utah as "the 56-inning game" — actually, consecutive games of 31 and 25 innings vs. Creighton in the 1991 Western Athletic Conference tournament. Or maybe it makes perfect sense, for a coach whose most memorable moment with SLCC stemmed from a walk-off defeat that led to her dropping her gear next to the team van and jogging back to the hotel, going several miles out of her way. The next day, the Bruins beat Snow and Dixie (twice), qualifying for the NJCAA tournament in Florida to conclude her SLCC tenure.

As she explained, "The challenge just disappeared for me. … I need to have somebody kick my butt."

That problem eventually would be solved by Hogue's taking over Utah's program and moving into the Pac-12, where the Utes posted a 2-22 conference record in2012. They've improved steadily since 2012, using a theme of SLCC's program. "Have fun and get better," she said. "You can't just do one or the other."

Hogue "made it fun to come to practice," said Kate Nygaard, an SLCC catcher who's now a Seton Hall assistant coach. "She held you to a higher standard, [although] at times you didn't realize it."

Hogue once stood at second base, holding her glove as a target for Nygaard. The catcher's throw was slightly off line, and Hogue didn't move. "OK," Nygaard realized, "I guess I've got to be more accurate."

Nygaard appreciated how Hogue could be intense, yet joke with the players, an approach she tries to model as a coach. "You want the players to know you love the game as much as they do," Nygaard said.

That also explains how Brennan, the first of three children born to Amy and Sean Hogue, went almost straight from the delivery room to the campus for that team meeting, honoring the Bruins' schedule. As his mother said, "The girls found out right away that they weren't going to get away with much."

Brennan was 3 1/2 and his brother, Kai, was 18 months old in 2004, when SLCC finished sixth in the NJCAA tournament. Amicone, by then, was coaching the Jordan High School boys baseball team after losing her job at BYU. Hogue told her, "I need to stay home right now. You're who I want to take over my girls."

Again, their collusion worked. Carr rehired Amicone, who coached the Bruins for nine seasons, posting three straight NJCAA runner-up finishes, before moving to Weber State in 2014.

Hogue intended to resume coaching only if that meant taking over Utah's program — as she did three years later. Overlooked in one hiring process, she got the job the next year, when the other coach resigned. Being the second choice "probably fed into her competitiveness," Kris Timmel said.

Twitter: @tribkurt —

About the series

"First Jobs" is an occasional series detailing an early segment in the careers of notable Utah sports figures. Today: Amy Hogue, University of Utah softball coach.

Hogue at SLCC

Amy Hogue's record in the first five seasons of Salt Lake Community College's program:

Year League Overall

2000 20-4 38-16

2001 20-8 37-15

2002 15-11 32-25

2003 27-4 43-10

2004 31-9 47-16

Total 113-36 197-82

State of softball

Softball is the most successful sport in Utah college athletic departments in the 2016-17 school year, as illustrated this week. Utah and BYU are playing in an NCAA regional in Salt Lake City, Weber State and Utah State are playing in a National Invitational Softball Championship regional in Ogden, Dixie State is playing at Humboldt State in the NCAA Division II Super Regionals and Salt Lake Community College is the No. 2 seed in the NJCAA tournament in St. George.