Zust Settles into Coaching

April 8, 2011

Editor’s Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa’s Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide.

IOWA CITY, Iowa — It wasn’t an ordinary mid-week game for Amanda Zust on Wednesday. It was the former University of Iowa pitcher’s first game in the opposite dugout against the Hawkeyes a year removed from her playing days in Iowa City.

After wrapping up her UI career, where she won 56 games and finished with a 2.03 ERA, Zust received a text message from Drake assistant (and her former high school coach) Nicole Wood putting out a feeler to see if Zust would be interested in joining the Bulldog softball program’s coaching staff.

It wasn’t a hard decision for Zust, as she’d been wrestling with the idea of coaching for some time. It also didn’t hurt that the opportunity popped up in her hometown of Des Moines.

“It’s something I have had in the back of my mind and was definitely interested in,” said Zust, who ranks in Iowa’s top 10 in several categories, including career games, innings pitched, complete games, wins and strikeouts. “I coached a high school team (Des Moines East) for four years and I really enjoyed that. Going to the next level — the college level — was something that appealed to me.”

Zust’s transition from the mound to the dugout has gone as planned, albeit a little different.

“You get a different feel for things and a different aspect on this side of things,” said Zust. “One thing I have really enjoyed is seeing a different coaching style. Coach (Rich) Calvert definitely has his own style, and I’ve been able to learn a lot from him.

“Watching and learning from him every day and being around the team and getting a feel for what it’s like to be a coach at this level has been a good experience.”

Zust has helped guide the Bulldogs to success early in the season, as the squad has posted a 22-12 overall record and won each of their first eight Missouri Valley Conference games. The first year coach has been able to relate to her players, which has helped in the team’s success.

“It’s not so much the mechanical things,” said Zust, who threw two no-hitters in her Hawkeye career. “It’s nice having someone there to watch you because you can’t always feel or know what you’re doing wrong, but I think it’s good for them knowing I have been in the same spot they’re in.

“If they say something, I know how they feel, and I know the position they’re in. I try to help our players in that way.”

Make no mistake about her current allegiances, but Zust was excited to watch the OTHER team play heading into this not so ordinary mid-week affair. After all, she was going to be coaching against many of her friends and former teammates.

“I am excited to see them play,” said Zust, after throwing to Bulldog hitters in their pre-game batting practice. “I keep tabs on how the team (Iowa) is playing, as I’ve competed with most of them the past three years. I want to see them do well.”