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MNU softball rides coaching carousel

Sports
By Alexis Gonzalez
Mar 28, 2017

The MNU softball program has experienced tremendous turnover at the head coaching position, working with four acting head coaches in the last eight months. The transitions began when head coach Kelly Latendresse resigned the night before the start of the 2016 conference tournament.

Senior pitcher Lydia Reyes said it was up to the team to get their act together despite hearing the news of Latendresse resignation. Reyes even considered leaving MNU.

“We had a night’s sleep to get it all together and go play our hardest for the tournament,” Reyes said. “For a while, I was contemplating ending my career and going back to California.”

Emily Michels, assistant coach under Latendresse, was appointed interim head coach and led the team for the duration of the conference tournament until resigning in June 2016. Over the summer, Lee Dobbins was hired as MNU’s next head coach. Junior catcher Shelby Frans said the team was relieved when it found concrete leadership.

“The biggest struggle was leaving for the summer not knowing anything or what was going to happen with the team,” Frans said. “But we then found out we had a new coach, which was comforting.”

Shelby Frans bats in the first home game of the season against Washburn University (Kansas). Frans said she admires the fact that interim head coach Rob Wade makes an effort to build a relationship with every player. Photo by Jim Smith.Shelby Frans bats in the first home game of the season against Washburn University (Kansas). Frans said she admires the fact that interim head coach Rob Wade makes an effort to build a relationship with every player. Photo by Jim Smith.

On January 9, Dobbins resigned and assistant coach Rob Wade was named interim head coach for the 2017 season. Wade said he was shocked by the news, but was excited for the opportunity to lead the team.

“My biggest fear was having my relationship change with the players now that I was the ‘decision maker,’” Wade said. “But not much has changed. I had a great relationship with them as an assistant and that carried over as the head coach.”

Freshman outfielder Karlie Pepper said it was difficult having three different head coaches within her first semester, but she said she was very happy with the decision to have Wade as their head coach.

“Each [coach] has been better than the last, and Coach Wade definitely encourages us to reach our fullest potential.”

Frans said that she admires Wade as a coach and friend, commending him for his efforts to build relationships and care for the team.

“I love Coach Wade,” Frans said. “Any coach can be all about playing and winning the games, but he also makes it a point to build a relationship with you and always asks how you’re really doing.”

With the instability of coaching transitions held temporarily at bay, the team currently has some consistency. Wade is set to be the interim head coach until August 2017.

“I would absolutely love to stay at MNU if possible,” Wade said. “I believe God put myself and these girls here for a reason and we must make the best of all the circumstances.”

Regardless of the recent coaching instability, Reyes said the team is stronger than ever and is more united with Wade at the helm.

“With Wade as the coach, the team is a lot more cohesive,” Reyes said. “With the talents and leadership we have on the team, there are good things coming.”

Alexis Gonzalez

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Alexis Gonzalez is a student at MidAmerica Nazarene University and a reporter for The Trailblazer.

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