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Univ. of North Carolina - Softball
Univ. of North Carolina - Softball

Coaching Staff


Mary Jo Firnbach
Associate Head Coach

Mary Jo Firnbach joined the UNC softball program as associate head coach in August 2014.

Firnbach comes to UNC after spending eight seasons as the associate head coach at Texas A&M. During her tenure in College Station, the Aggies made eight NCAA tournament appearances, including two trips to the Women's College World Series and four NCAA Super Regional appearances. In 2008, Texas A&M advanced to the 2008 national championship game.

Before Texas A&M, Firnbach served as head coach of the Syracuse University softball team for seven seasons, where she led the Orange to a school record for victories (36) and its third appearance in the Big East championship, earning Coaching Staff of the Year honors in 2005. She has also held assistant coaching positions at Illinois State and the University of Michigan.

"I am excited to welcome Mary Jo to our Carolina Softball family," said Papa. "MJ has a wealth of experience in many areas of the game. She has been to the women's College World Series three times as an assistant with two outstanding programs in Texas A&M and Michigan. She also started the program and was the head coach at Syracuse for seven years.

"MJ's knowledge of the game and her ability to teach will help strengthen our program and help us continue to build a championship culture and mentality within our program. She will assist with many aspects of our offense and defense with the primary focus on developing our hitters and infielders.

"I believe she is a great fit for our program. MJ appreciates the culture of pride, passion, and excellence that we have embraced within our program and will be able to relate that to our players. I am looking forward to having her on our staff here at North Carolina."

Firnbach graduated from Southern Illinois University in 1991 with a bachelor's degree in community health relations and later returned for her masters in sports psychology. She is a member of the Southern Illinois University Athletics Hall of Fame.

While at Southern Illinois, Firnbach was named team captain in 1991, a season in which the Salukis went 42-7 and were the Gateway Conference regular season and tournament champions. She was a two-time Gateway All-Conference first-team selection and an All-Midwest second-team selection.

On the professional level, Firnbach played the 1991 season for the Raybestos Brakettes in Stratford, Conn. The Brakettes won the national championship and the gold medal at the Olympic Sports Festival. She also played with the Michigan Cruise in Ann Arbor, Mich., finishing fifth at the national tournament in 1994.

Firnbach entered the coaching profession immediately following graduation, serving as a volunteer assistant coach for two seasons at her alma mater, while completing her master's degree. She served as an assistant coach at Michigan from 1993-95 where she helped lead the Wolverines to a Big Ten Conference regular season and tournament championships, the National Invitational Tournament title and to an appearance in the College World Series.

Firnbach then served as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at Illinois State for three years. The Redbirds won the Missouri Valley Conference title in 1996 and 1997 before Firnbach was named the head coach of the Orange in 1998.

Suzanne Tadlock
Volunteer Assistant Coach

Suzanne Tadlock returns for her fourth year as the volunteer assistant for Carolina softball.

Tadlock joined the Tar Heels for the 2013 season after coaching high school softball at Leesville Road High School for 15 years, as well as serving as the Donna J Papa Softball  Camp Director for the past four years.

“Suzanne brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to our program,” head coach Donna J. Papa said of Tadlock’s hiring.  She started a leadership academy at Leesville Road High School when she worked there, she has coached at the travel ball level and she has worked with the NCAA YES softball clinics at the DI, II, III levels as a field director and clinician.” Suzanne works with the hitters and infielders and assist with our camps and clinics.

In addition to her volunteer coaching duties, she is also the Physical Education and Health Facilitator at Durham Performance Learning Center.

Tadlock is a graduate of UNC Greensboro (1990), where she played softball for the Spartans.