Softball programs at Historically Black Colleges and Universities have been under the radar for so long, but one particular alumnus of the oldest HBCU in Arkansas has shed historical light on Black College softball with new lines of history created.
Dominique Humphrey, a graduate of the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, has made history as the first HBCU international softball player and the first HBCU product as an international softball head coach.
Humphrey graduated from Arkansas-Pine Bluff in 2019 with her Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminal Justice. She went the extra mile to acquire her Master of Science in addiction studies but would not be able to solve her addiction to her love of the game of softball.
One of the most gifted athletes in her teenage years at Reedley High School, Humphrey was a member of the basketball team, volleyball team, a jumper for the school’s track and field program, and of course (you guessed it), the softball team.
Back in her high school softball days, Humphrey set the record at her high school for most home runs with 53 homers which set off an alarm to herself that softball would be the route to go.
After graduating from Reedley High School in 2015, Humphrey landed at Yavapai College in Prescott, Arizona, where she played as an outfielder and had a batting average of .273, scoring three runs in her first collegiate season with an RBI to add on.
However, Humphrey did not stay at Yavapai long, which led her across the country to the Midwest at Dodge City Community College in Dodge City, Kansas, where she scored nine runs on nine hits with the addition of nine RBIs and one home run in the 2017 regular season.
Her ability to focus at the plate led her to decide to change her life forever – signing with Arkansas-Pine Bluff to compete in the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) at the NCAA Division I level.
Without a doubt, Humphrey showed out in her first season at UAPB to tally 14 runs on 14 hits, five home runs, and 17 impressive RBIs. She scored 11 runs with 14 RBI in her final season of collegiate eligibility, wondering what her next move would be.
Humphrey was not done serving Dear Mother after completing her undergraduate degree. With the hard work, determination, and courage she demonstrated during her time as a UAPB softball player, her coach, Michael Bumpers, hired Humphrey as a graduate assistant coach for Arkansas-Pine Bluff.
Without hesitation, Humphrey agreed to become the next GA at UAPB with her coaching experience before going to Arkansas-Pine Bluff and her greed to learn more about the game of softball.
Humphrey began coaching back in her high school days at Reedley, where she was a skill camp coach – she worked with girls between the ages of six and 12 on fundamentals, base running, and hitting mechanics and educated children on the arts of the infield and outfield.
She eventually became a private coach throughout her college career, working with girls in the 12-&-under age group, mainly focusing on pitching, hitting, and catching techniques. Working with young women at Arkansas-Pine Bluff wouldn’t be a challenge for Humphrey as she focused on coaching the same tactics at UAPB before graduating with her master’s degree in 2021.
“As an HBCU Female Athlete, it’s important to understand that WE matter too,” Humphrey said. “Being a Scholar Athlete doesn’t end when you graduate. There is still an endless amount of opportunity for us (black female athletes) to learn and grow in softball and life.”
Before graduating, Humphrey already had her plans set to play professional softball overseas. The Monday after graduating, she would sign her first contract in Bumpers’ office with the Zurich Challengers in Europe.
In her first summer season as a professional after being off the field for two years, Humphrey batted .385 on the season, which led to her getting picked up with the Ghajnsielem Redcoats as a player/coach during the same summer, allowing her to compete in the European Woman’s Fastpitch National Championship.
Being a player/coach could be a challenging task to fulfill, wouldn’t it? That wasn’t the case for Humphrey — she embraced her journey every step of the way, which led to more opportunities in a place she wasn’t familiar with but soon called it home.
Humphrey’s professional career didn’t accelerate until her sophomore season with the Redcoats, where she significantly improved her batting in all her years of playing softball. In the summer of 2022, Humphrey was outstanding at-bat with a batting average of .750, with one of her wildest plays of stealing home base and hitting a home run to lead her team to their second national championship.
Her gameplay strategy led her to become the head coach of the Maltese National Team to lead the pack to their first-ever European Championships, where her team would finish their season ranked 19th in the continent.
“This game has allowed me to grow as a player and person,” said Humphrey. “My goal is to grow this game on a global stage, bring my opportunities and connections back to the stats, especially in the HBCU atmosphere, and spread knowledge and opportunity in this sport.”