With years of experience and a passion for Florida A&M University, longtime head softball coach Veronica Wiggins recently announced her retirement after this year’s season.
Wiggins was born and raised in Miami. Growing up, she was the oldest daughter of nine and had responsibilities that everyday teenagers wouldn’t care to think about.
“I was the oldest girl. My job was to take care of the family,” Wiggins said.
Playing softball was Wiggins’ escape from having to grow up at a young age. It was where she could be a kid.
“Softball was my outlet; that was the way I was able to express myself on the field from being put to being an adult at a young age,” Wiggins said. “It was like a place where I was able to be a kid and I fell in love with it.”
Wiggins believes that her obligations at home equipped her for the job she has held at FAMU since 1990.
“It taught me how to understand, be patient and nurture,” Wiggins said.
It specifically taught her how to “work with different personalities.”
Assistant softball coach Constance Orr spoke on her personal growth while working alongside Wiggins and Wiggins’ role in instilling qualities in her life and their players’ lives.
“…just to see that there’s more than softball and these girls are here for loving, nurturing environment for people to support them and Coach Wiggins is their biggest supporter,” Orr said.
Wiggins said her oldest brother, Willie Whiting, helped develop her love for softball. Whiting played baseball and always supported her desire to play softball.
“He knew the game, he was knowledgeable and he played the game well,” Wiggins said.
When Wiggins first got to FAMU she started out as a volunteer. As she continued to make her way up she knew that she wanted to be involved and make an impact within the program.
Wiggins earned two degrees at FAMU, earned a bachelor’s in health, physical education and recreation and in 1991 a master’s in health, physical education and recreation.
Throughout Wiggins’ career at FAMU she became the first HBCU coach to win more than 700 games, 12 conference championships and earn nine NCAA appearances. Inducted into the FAMU Sports Hall of Fame in 2006, she has won the MEAC Outstanding Tournament Coach Award eight times, and is a four-time MEAC Coach of the Year (1993, 1997, 1998, 2006). Wiggins was also able to contribute toFAMU’s switch to fast-pitch in 1984 as a member of the staff.
“I would recruit slow-pitch players and I would bring them here. We grew and we were determined to change it and we did,” Wiggins said.
Alongside her countless accolades her greatest accomplishment was the impact she’s made in the lives of her players.
“The greatest one is the kids that graduate and go on to having their own families,” Wiggins said as she scanned the wall of pictures of former students and their children on her office wall. ”Seeing how they go out and move mountains, and they do,” she said.
Senior occupational therapy student Jamesia Stoudemire is a co-captain with FAMU’s softball team. Stoudemire works closely with Wiggins and appreciates the part Wiggins plays in her life.
“She’s shaped every aspect of my life. Taking the role under her brought so much out of me which helps me bring more out of my team,” Stoudemire said.
As Wiggins reflects on her journey at FAMU she is humble and grateful to be part of something as meaningful and significant as coaching one of the sports that changed her life.
“FAMU has given me everything. I couldn’t have been at a better place,” Wiggins said.
Once the season is over Wiggins plans on going on mission trips to different countries and serving her community as she has always done.