Welcome to The Dugout! This blog will provide fans the opportunity to connect with the student-athletes, coaches, staff, and alumni around the Hawkeye softball program. The Dugout aims to deliver a unique insight into the lives of the Iowa softball team. Each week, The Dugout will feature different softball student-athletes, a coach, or a staff member.
Senior Farewell: Allie Wood
“Allie, what’s even out there, corn?”
“Why would you leave California?”
These are the things I heard for three years before I came here to the University of Iowa, and for three years I shook my head and said you don’t understand. Reflecting on the past four years I know that I made the right decision. I know that this year’s senior class is a group of teammates that is hard to come by. I know that the Hawk fans are the best support system that we could ever ask for, so why would I want to choose any other place than Iowa City. Having the opportunity to represent the University of Iowa has been a privilege and over the past four years I have made memories that I will never forget. An athlete never thinks about the day their career will be over. My first fall practice in August hit me in a way that I never thought was possible. The reality that within the year my career would be over had me wishing for a slight second that I was a freshman again.
So I’d like to thank everyone who has ever impacted my life and made my softball career so special to me. I am so grateful to have all of you in my life. You are all the reason that being an Iowa Hawkeye has been possible. This chapter in my life may be over but I am so excited to see what our class has in store in the future.
For your 2018 senior class, our softball careers may be over, but you haven’t seen the last of us, Hawk Fans.
P.S Mom and Dad, thank you for living the good life with me and YOUR BABY GIRL DID IT!!!
Senior Farewell: Angela Schmiederer
Dear Hawkeye Family, Friends, and Fans,
I cannot believe that it is my time to say good bye. As I sit here and write my farewell, I am truly at a loss for words. How do you say good bye to a game, community, and a group of people who mean so much?
When I was in middle school, I wrote my future self a letter for a class project. In that letter, I wrote that my dream was to play Division 1 softball at a Big Ten school. Fast forward to now, I don’t think my Pom Captain, middle-school self could have ever imagined that I would be dancing and strutting up to the plate wearing a Hawkeye jersey over the past 4 years.
It is hard to believe that my time as a student athlete is coming to a close. I am so thankful for my teammates and the lifelong friendships, memories, and laughs that we have created together. I am humbled to have been apart of such an outstanding Iowa City community that works so diligently for the benefit of others. A community that bleeds Black and Gold and has an undying support for all Hawkeye student athletes. I am so fortunate to have been able to play for a coaching staff that has fostered self growth, resilience, integrity, hard work, and confidence in myself and my teammates.
I would like to take some extra time to thank my support system. I have received so much love and support from a variety of different people throughout my athletic and academic career, and for that I am forever grateful.
My siblings have been rooting me on for my whole softball career. Jessica and Luke, thank you for following my games online and for double checking that yes, I really DID steal a base against Northwestern. You both have been so supportive of me and so understanding of the crazy schedules. Over the past 4 years, my older sister, Stacey, has sat through almost every home game at Bob Pearl Field. I am not kidding. Luckily for me, Stacey stayed in town after she graduated from the University of Iowa in 2014. Stacey, I cannot say thank you enough for your continuous support and guidance. I am so thankful to have such a strong, loving, and passionate role model living right down the street from me. Most of all, thank you for helping make Iowa City my home away from home and for showing me how to be a Hawkeye.
Most importantly, I would like to take the time to say thank you to my parents, Pat and Sue. Thank you for all the time, energy, and sacrifice that it has taken to allow me to chase after my own dreams. I am so lucky to be able to hear two loud “Go Hawks” and see a few burrito lifts from the stands on game day, no matter where we are playing. There are not enough thank yous to encompass everything that you have done and continue to do for me. Thank you both for being my No. 1 fans on both my good and bad days.
I can’t believe that I am about to play my last game on Pearl Field, a place that I call home. My time at the University has been unforgettable and for that, family, friends, and fans, I am forever grateful.
See you out there Hawk Fans.
With much love,
Angela Schmiederer #12
Senior Farewell: Sarah Kurtz
You know that feeling when you’re sprinting from one gate to another in an attempt to make your connecting flight? The anxiousness to get off the plane, the increased heart rate as you brush pass bystanders? You’re running to gain time; to gain time with your family, to gain time in your bed, to gain time anywhere other than in the airport awaiting the next available flight.
Well, for the past two months I’ve felt like I’ve been running every day. Running to gain more time making memories on Pearl, to gain more time in Iowa City, to gain more time with my best friends, this support staff and the Hawkeye community.
Now see, I’ve had a lot of time to comprehend what this feeling feels like. Being from Virginia and playing an outside sport in the Midwest has allowed me many trips on an aircraft. Your heart beats a little faster and you’re a little anxious, all feelings I know my fellow seniors are feeling alongside me as we edge closer to graduation and our final days on Pearl. That uncertainty is setting in as a part of our identity is about to alter.
To say I’m proud would be an understatement. Proud of my teammates, my sisters, and how they’ve grown this season and how they will continue to flourish and fight once we have left. Proud to be a part of a community that is kind, genuine, and passionate about every single Hawkeye sport. Proud to have been part of an Iowa Softball culture that prides itself on work ethic, community service, and competing every single day. Proud to have been given the opportunity to represent this university and community on and off the field.
I’m grateful for this running through the airport sensation, the anxiousness and all, because it means my time at Iowa meant something.
Well, I’ve reached my gate Hawk fans, and we’re about to take off. I hope I made you proud.
Again, thank you, and forever go Hawks.
P.S. Mom and Dad, thank you for making this all possible. It doesn’t’t feel like that long ago that we were making drives all over the country to play tournaments and dad was insisting I change out of my uniform before getting into the car covered in dirt. The memories on the road are my favorite. Carrie and Marshall, thank you for sacrificing weekends with mom and dad and supporting me, you two really are the best. Thomas, my amazing fiance, you not only supported but encouraged me to chase my dreams half way across the country; you inspired me, encouraged me, and convinced me that I could do anything. To everyone listed above, and many, many others, thank you for being so selfless and allowing me to chase this Hawkeye dream.
Senior Farewell: Cheyenne Pratt
To my Hawkeye Family,
When you step into the shoes of a freshman athlete at the university you never believe what they say about how fast the four years go. But before you know it three years go by in a blink and all you can think about is how you only have one more season left to play the sport that you love with the people that you love.
The opportunity that I was given to be a Hawkeye has been an absolute blessing. The places I have seen, the people that I have met, and the memories that I have are incredible. While there were many trials that I faced throughout my time as a Hawkeye, I would not change the journey one bit because it helped me grow into the person that I am today.
I will forever cherish the memories of waking up at 5am every day to ride our mopeds in the freezing cold to practice freshman year, bus rides where we are all singing at the top of our lungs, participating in a dance party with Fullerton, playing hacky sack, praying before games, running into a huddle when someone hits a walk off to win the game, and much much more.
It is hard for me to think about what my life will be like after softball is over, but I know that this sport and the people who were involved helped to prepare me for what is to come. Thank you Coach Looper, Coach B, Coach West, Evan (St. Louis Chaos), Coach G (Festus High School), and all of my coaches throughout my career that have helped me grow not only as a player but as a person. Your unending support has been truly unbelievable and I could not be more thankful.
To my teammates:
You all mean the world to me. Without you all, my life would have been boring and uneventful. I am grateful for the life long friendships that I have made and I look forward to future memories that we make. Thank you for being the people that I could lean on through all of my struggles, and the people who were the most ecstatic during my success. You all are beautiful inside and out and deserve the world. Keep shining bright and live life to the fullest.
To my family:
You all know that you are my world. Mom and Dad, words cannot explain how grateful I am to have such wonderful parents that travel across the country to see their daughter throw a ball around. You two are the best and I will never be able to repay you for what you have done. Mom, thank you for being the person that I can call at any time of the day. Dad, thank you for making me laugh and practicing with me all of those years to help me get to this level. Jessie, thank you for being the most supportive sister and going out of your way to make my life easier. Grandma and Grandpa, thank you for reminding me that you love me no matter what and that my identity does not come from the game of softball but from the man upstairs. Thank you all for keeping me grounded and shaping me into the person I am today.
Thank you for waking me up every morning and giving me the ability to play the sport that I love. Thank you for teaching me how to love unconditionally and blessing me with a life that is full of joy.
Keely, thank you for keeping everything organized and being a great example of a Godly woman. Haley, thank you for being our mom away from home and always making sure that we were physically prepared for our games. Coach Roberts, thank you for helping me learn how to be successful in the weight room and how to keep my body healthy. Aubrette and Bri, thank you for helping me with my mental game and preparing me mentally for the trials that I faced and will face in the future.
Hawk fans, thank you for welcoming me into the Hawkeye family four years ago and cheering us all on!
I am thankful for you Hawkeye Nation and Go Hawks!
#27 Cheyenne Pratt
Senior Farewell: Kenzie Ihle
Dear Hawkeye Fans,
Today is the day I begin to say good bye to a huge part of my life. As I write my senior farewell, it is hard to believe that this is the final chapter of my softball career. I have spent the majority of my life playing this game and in return it has given me some of the greatest lessons, the most remarkable people, the best memories, and the most unforgettable experiences I could have ever asked for.
Softball has taught me so much about myself. It has taught me how to face adversity head on, to not be afraid of it but to embrace it. It has taught me how to build strong relationships. It has taught me about the importance of a strong work ethic both on and off the field. Most importantly, it has taught me to never give up on myself, persevere through the tough times, and to always be present in every single moment.
I want to take the time to give my parents and my brother a huge thank you for all the time and commitment they have put into my softball career since I was a little girl. I would not be where I am today without their endless love and support. I would also like to thank my grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, and fans. I have loved having you in the stands supporting and cheering me on every step of the way. I’d also like to thank all of my teammates from little league to college and in between. I have made some of the best friendships and memories that I will cherish for the rest of my life. I’d also like to give all of my coaches a big thank you. Thank you for pushing me, challenging me, and most of all for believing in me.
Even though my time on the mound is coming to an end, it will always be a huge part of my life. I will never forget the coaches, the people, and the experiences. This sport has given me more than I could have ever imagined. I began my college career at DMACC, a junior college in Boone, Iowa. I transferred to Indiana State University my junior year and decided to finish out my senior year at the University of Iowa. I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to come back to Iowa to finish out my final softball season, represent my home state, and wear the black and gold. I will always be proud to say that I am a Hawkeye.
Kenzie Ihle #22
Senior Farewell: Ashley Yoways
Dear Hawkeye family,
When I think about the fantastic opportunity I was given to be a Hawkeye student-athlete, there are so many people I have to thank. I spent four years traveling to beautiful places with my best friends to play the game we all love. We have impressive facilities, fancy athletic gear, and we ate the best food. Everything I could have needed was available to me, and I cannot be more thankful to everyone who was a part of that.
This experience has been better than I ever dreamed it would be. I knew when I first stepped on campus that this was the place for me, and throughout my time as a student-athlete here I have been continuously reminded of those feelings I first felt. Having the opportunity to be part of such an amazing community is humbling. The Hawkeye community’s pride and dedication to the program and Iowa as a whole has made this experience so special. Iowa has given me the opportunity to build bonds and friendships with some of the most inspiring, strong, and kind-hearted people.
Thank you to my family. Thank you, Mom and Dad, for giving me the opportunities of a lifetime. Thank you, Mom, for being the most influential, positive person in my life. Thank you, Dad, for always making me laugh and practicing with me even after you worked nights. Matt and Tony, thank you for sitting through the endless amounts of games in the scorching heat or freezing cold when you could have been with your friends. You guys rock! I would not be here without you.
Thank you to my teammates. You guys have been there for everything and continued to be my rock. I am so thankful that Iowa brought us all together. I am leaving the university with lifelong friendships and the most amazing memories. Running through the airports, running on the Pentacrest, running on the track… we have done a lot of running. Road trip raves on the bus, group showers, eating so much food we cannot move, and so much more. There is nothing I have enjoyed more than playing the game I love with the people I love.
Coach Looper, thank you for this incredible opportunity. Thank you, Coach B, for teaching me to be myself and to never to back down. I knew that your door was always open if I needed advice or just someone to talk to. Coach West, thank you for working with me through vision training. You and Dr. Roggy gave me a chance to make the most of what I have. I cannot put into words how much it has meant to me. Noticing the little changes and improvements on and off the field kept me going and made me excited again. Coach Roberts, thank you for caring so much and making sure that we were all taken care of. Haley, thank you for having our backs and for making sure that we were really okay. Thank you for being there whenever anyone needed you regardless of the time or the circumstance. Thanks for just being you and so much more.
This journey is ending quicker than I could have ever expected. Even as I am writing this, it is hard to believe that this is the end. So much has changed in four years and I have grown in ways I never imagined. Iowa City and all of the Hawkeye fans have made this experience unforgettable. Thank you for letting me call Iowa home for the last four years!
Senior Farewell: Daniella Ibarra
Before each and every game, I like to give thanks and pray while the National Anthem is being played. I’d be the first one to admit, I’m not super religious but this is something I have been doing since high school. I think this small tradition I have translates well into this “senior farewell,” so here it goes…
First, thank you, God, for allowing me to be here today, for letting me stand here healthy both mentally and physically; I am truly grateful. Second, thank you to my family, friends, all of my teammates, present and past, coaches, and everyone who has helped me become the person I am today. I am blessed to have all these people in my life. Please keep them in the best of health, keep them safe and keep them happy. Lastly, thank you, Iowa, for making me a Hawkeye and letting me be part of the best fans, community, and school in the world!
Go Hawks! Game on.
D. Ibarra #20
Senior Farewell: Daniela Chambers
Throughout my four years here at the University of Iowa, I always wondered what writing my senior farewell would feel like. As we approach graduation and the end of my collegiate softball career, I find myself thinking more and more of the player I was when I first fell in love with the game. I was a late bloomer, and did not start playing softball competitively until my freshmen year of high school. While I was usually looked past as a slow and unathletic player, I used this as fuel to outwork every other girl on the field. I slowly saw improvements in my play, before even my parents saw a difference. I began fostering this dream of playing Division I softball. It was from this point on that I heard different variations of the same phrase: you are not good enough.
While this may have been true at the time, I never believed it. I loved the game, and that was enough for me to crave the satisfaction of proving everyone wrong. I spent countless hours at hitting lessons, catching lessons, and taking rep after rep, daring anyone to doubt me. When I got a phone call the summer before my senior year of high school from the coaching staff at the University of Iowa, I was overcome with emotion. Although I’ve lived in Orange County, California my whole life, I grew up following the Hawkeyes and wearing the tigerhawk proudly before I could even swing a bat, because my dad is a proud alum of this amazing university.
I want to dedicate my four years here at Iowa as a student athlete to the 14 year old girl who never gave up. Her mental fortitude, drive, and faith have inspired to me to overcome all of the challenges that faced me, and relish in all of my achievements.
To my Mom and Dad, I am not able to convey the amount of gratitude I have for everything you’ve done for me. From sending me care packages with all of my favorite items from home, answering my late night phone calls where I am stressing about everything under the sun, and to truly being my closet and fiercest supporters. Thank you for letting me live out my dreams. I would also like to thank everyone who crossed my path during my four years at Iowa. Every single one of you have made an impact in my life and have helped shape the person I am today. I will forever cherish the memories I made with my teammates past and present, and continuously say “Go Hawks” with pride.
#44 Daniela Chambers
Making it all Work
Since I began writing this post, we have traveled just over 900 miles from Iowa City. We have taken two buses and two planes to get here. I sit in a hotel room on hold while voices like Frank Sinatra are in my ear trying to distract me until the Olive Garden manager is ready for me to read off the credit card number I have memorized. So, to say the least, among my other responsibilities, team travel is a big portion of what I do for the Hawkeyes while we are in season.
My job is like a 1,000-piece puzzle. I start to put the border of the puzzle together months in advance and the result is (hopefully) a successful, beautiful sunset puzzle that both the team and staff can enjoy. Planning begins usually six months out with booking flights and hotels and reserving our charter buses. After these items are chosen and confirmed we move into getting some more specific options that we may use during the trip. By that I mean the food. We watch nutrition closely and work to make sure the team is being fueled with the proper foods. We eat well and we eat a lot so having options of restaurants that can either seat a group our size or deliver to the field or hotel are necessary for everyone’s sanity. Another key part to our food choices is making sure places can accommodate food allergies, no one wants to reenact the scene from Hitch or have to use one of those epi-pens we carry. Next, about one to two months out from the trip room lists get sent out and any catered meals with the hotel are confirmed. Also around this one month mark is when the airlines typically need their flight lists.
Finally, it’s the week of the trip. This is where the mad dash to finish that puzzle comes in. As soon as that one piece is confirmed, then everything just starts to fit into place. Typically, that beginning of the end puzzle piece is the information from the host institution or tournament. Items include: practice times, bat testing, pre-game protocol and warm up times. Also, around this time is when we get final flight information and final menus are confirmed with the restaurant or hotel.
From this point, everything has been confirmed and should be good to go. Key words are “should be”; it never fails that something doesn’t go right; like when a hostess thinks you said a reservation for “two” when they really missed the “three” in front of that. Remember that call with Olive Garden when I felt like I could speak fluent Italian after how long I was on the phone for? Well, the day of that meal came and after giving them the address for the fifth time, they still didn’t have it right and none of our credit cards would work for payment. The quote that comes to mind here is “Failing to prepare, is preparing to fail” by Benjamin Franklin, much like our team and the hours of work that they put into training both on and off the field, this is where I have put in the time and prepare myself to talk to the right people when these situations so they can be easily resolved. No matter what things will always need to be adjusted. Whether that means moving up our food because games are moving at a quick pace (the coaches like that) or push it back because weather has rolled in (none of us like that). When travelling, it’s all about adjustments and finding solutions for the problem at hand.
We are now on the tail end of our trip and headed those 900 miles back to Iowa City. We just had a player misplace her ID and had to figure out how to regain access to an already checked bag that went through security and was somewhere on a conveyer belt. At that very moment when they ask to describe the bag and we know there are 38 other bags that look identical, the only saying came to mind was, ‘finding a needle in a haystack”, and they found it! All I will say is she knows who she is, the team knows who she is, but everyone reading this doesn’t know who she is. And for that… I would like to let her know that I enjoy hazelnut coffee from Dunkin’ Donuts. So, rest assured if you ever do this, it is possible to get something out of an already checked bag. I would like to say that this is the first time this has happened this year, but that wouldn’t be true. In fact, we’ve played this not so fun game now three times this season. We have never left anyone, it just requires a little more time going through security.
All in all, being a Director of Operations requires a lot of the behind the scenes work. I’m often asked what does a Director of Operations do? Well, the simplest answer I have found is this; everything and anything the coaches need done. However, there is so much more that goes into making a trip happen, and countless other funny stories to go along with it, but this is a broad look at what it takes to travel with the 2018 Hawkeye Softball team.
Director of Softball Operations
From the back of the bus to the front of the bus
It’s been 13 years since I joined the Iowa softball team as a freshman from Danville, IA. I don’t remember a lot of the details of my playing days, but I’ll never forget the way it felt stepping foot on campus for the first time as an Iowa Hawkeye. It was the beginning of one of the greatest, most cherished chapters in my life, and I didn’t even know at the time just how impactful my years at Iowa were about to be. That feeling of excitement and pride to wear the black and gold only grows deeper throughout your years as a Hawkeye; it grows so deep it can’t ever be shaken. Once a Hawkeye, always a Hawkeye they say, and they couldn’t be more right. Being from Iowa, I grew up cheering for the Hawks (Obviously, it’s a Hawkeye State!), so having the opportunity to wear IOWA across my chest was such an honor and an experience I’ll be forever grateful for. Being a student-athlete demands a lot, and while it’s hard to appreciate in the moment, the grind and the setbacks, the comebacks and the togetherness, the hard work put in and pushing through tough times are all experiences not many have the privilege to have and are life lessons that teach you and build you into a better player and person.
Since graduating in 2009, I’ve stayed in the Iowa City area to get my Master’s degree and start my coaching career. What drove me into the coaching field was my desire to help others have the chance to have the experience I had, because I knew how meaningful it was to me and the person I became because of it. There were a number of mentors and coaches from high school throughout my college years that helped get me there and that helped develop me as a person and player. I wanted to be one of those people for others, no matter what their end goal. I coached seven high school seasons in track and field and softball from 2010-2013 before navigating into the world of coaching CrossFit and personal training.
I returned to Pearl Field in 2015 as a Volunteer Assistant Coach and again in 2017, now as a full-time assistant coach. I couldn’t be happier to be back in the dugout wearing black in gold. Something that makes being on this staff extra sweet is that I get to be part of the teams’ experiences at my alma mater. I’ve been where they’ve been, as have the other staff, but I’ve had IOWA across my chest. I’ve represented this state, I’ve sat in those classes, I’ve sweated and bled on Pearl Field, and that is what makes this an even more unique and special opportunity to me. I love knowing that these student-athletes are in in the beginning, middle, or end of one of the greatest chapters of their lives, whether they realize it or not at this time, and I get to be part of it. I hope to challenge them not to take any time for granted, to push and work through the struggles, and to celebrate each other’s successes, no matter how big or small. It’s over before you know it. I promise. So be present- one day at a time Hawks – and eat it up. From the back of the bus to the front of the bus, it has been an easy transition for me and one thing I am certain of is that it is a special bus to be on. Go Hawks!
-Assistant coach Rachel West
Spring Break and Personal Growth
As the sophomore class, we are excited to travel to Arizona, a place we have never been on this team. Spring break is a time for us to play softball without any other distractions. We are excited to continue developing as a team over spring break while playing a variety of opponents. We are ready to finish up our pre-conference games on a positive note before heading into conference play. After finishing up in Arizona, we head back to the Midwest where we will compete a little closer to home than we have so far this season. Our class is fortunate for the opportunities to travel around the nation and play some of the top programs. We think this trip will be a great experience prior to our home openers against South Dakota State and Michigan.
It’s great to have a year under our belts and our class is able to walk on the field with a newfound confidence, knowing what to expect and what our personal strengths are. After a year and a half of learning and developing a culture we are proud of, our class is better able to compete at this level. It is evident that our class has matured from playing timid to playing with a purpose. Last year, we were the ones who relied on the upper-classmen, but this year, we are able to help the freshman transition into the student-athlete lifestyle. The sophomore class is more excited than ever to continue building as a team and continue a great season.
Havyn Monteer, Allison Doocy, Taylor Libby, Devin Cantu, Lea Thompson, Elizabeth DeShields, Brooke Rozier, Alex Rath, and McKenzie Schneider
Move Your Bus
Move your bus. These three words make up the entirety of what our team stands for this 2018 season. Every year, our coaching staff assigns a book for the team to read. This year we read “Move Your Bus: An Extraordinary New Approach to Accelerating Success in Work and Life” by Ron Clark. We ended 2017 and started 2018 by completing this evaluation process (whether we knew it or not!) through reading this book. A quick, yet powerful, read that inspired us all to evaluate our contributions to the team and how we could make those contributions even greater.
As a group of 22 young women, being able to read this book has given us a direction (pun intended) on how to drive our season. We have learned the value of putting in hard work (even on days when we may be struggling), the value of being a good teammate, and being able to recognize what it means to truly have each other’s back. We are all working together as one unit in order to move our bus forward and attack the competition that sits ahead of us in the upcoming months. This means putting in more work behind the scenes.
Growing up, many people have mentioned the power of self-evaluation, insisting the only way to progress is to acknowledge and recognize your weaknesses and to work to make them your strengths. Clark described types of players on a team or in the workforce as either being a Runner, Jogger, Walker, Rider, or Driver. Throughout our reading we were able to learn what characteristics make up each role and evaluate where we are as individuals and where our teammates fall on the scale. Runners are the non-stop go-getters and Riders are what Clark would describe as “dead weight”.
We have thoroughly benefited from this ongoing exercise and the self-evaluations we all underwent. This has forced many of us to make noticeable changes that have positively benefited this year. We are excited to see what this group of women will accomplish on and off the field as we all aspire and work towards being runners in softball and in life. Self-evaluation is a powerful tool that is always allowing us to grow. It’s been over a month since we have finished the book, and it is still used in every part of practices, training, rehab, and performance in the classroom.
Through this we learned to respect and value everyone’s opinions and we learned how each individual on our team responds and works through certain hardships. We continue to implement this information in our everyday practices and we can’t wait to show you, Hawkeye nation, just how far we’ve come when we step out onto Pearl Field on March 21st!
Sarah Kurtz, Angela Schmiederer, Cheyenne Pratt, Brooke Rozier, Allison Doocy, Taylor Libby
Strength Coach Cody Roberts
“The Hay is in the Barn!”
We sat as a team on Monday morning, August 22nd, and coach Looper addressed the 2017-18 team for the first time. Each support staff member, from sport nutrition, sport psychology, academics, and strength and conditioning had an opportunity to address the group. At the end of the meeting, coach Looper discussed the opportunities ahead, our mission as a program, the values we hold ourselves to, and most importantly the need to GROW and FORM as a team. With a spring sport like softball, it is in an ideal situation to do just that. In the 6 months that would lie ahead, we would dedicate ourselves to the mission of growing physically and mentally as a unit. The seeds had been planted, and we had the months ahead to nurture and cultivate our crop for the spring.
Having experienced a full year in the 2016-17 campaign, there was a greater familiarity with how the weeks and months came together in preparation for the season. Time to think and prepare through the summer months as I reflected on ways to influence the group and make sure that they were prepared to compete on opening day, February 9th. Much like the training being periodized, my involvement with the program varies through the year as well. Regardless of my limited face-to-face contact with the team in-season, it is the work that we put in through the fall and winter that prepares us both physically and mentally for the competition and travel in the spring. Each week and month builds upon the previous as the season nears. The five days per week of training that happens through November and December decreases to 2-3 days per week during January’s preseason as softball skill and team work come to the forefront of our focus, continuing to develop and preparing for our harvest.
As the saying goes, at this point in the year: “The hay is in the barn!” In a sense, the work is done from a physical preparation standpoint. The bails are stacked, and we are ready to cash in on the benefits of our hard work. We have gone through our initial assessments, acclimating their bodies and minds to balancing training, softball, school, and life. Softball is a speed and power dominated sport, and much of our training is geared towards improving those areas. Improving strength, coordination, rate of force development, and developing an understanding for proper movement mechanics is paramount to seeing improvements in speeds from home to first and increased velocities with throwing or hitting. I have been very proud of the growth of each individual as well as the formation of the team as a whole. We have seen these young women mature through the off-season and they are bringing more of a business-like approach to their training and life as student-athletes. It was reassuring to see the production at the plate this past weekend, and I’m excited for their confidence to grow as the weeks progress.
Much of what we do in-season is maintenance work, but with the reduced loads, we often see a steady improvement in speed and power outputs as the season progresses and they acclimate to the demands. We are applying the skills we learned through the fall semester regarding nutrition and sleep habits, recovery methods, and time management; letting our physical abilities show through. There is an incredible amount of resiliency needed to balance the travel and academic demands, especially during the non-conference stretch. Therefore, when the opportunity comes for the team to come in and lift, we need to make sure we are prescribing the right amount and type of training. Too much or poorly timed work during the week can affect their ability to recover for the coming weekend’s games. Preparation ahead of time goes on behind the scenes before the team comes in to lift to monitor their readiness for that particular day. As a staff, we are looking at wellness questionnaire information, analyzing Omegawave results, and in some cases, leaning on the information from our Tensiomyography (TMG) unit to help guide what it is we do. The last piece we use to monitor readiness is our ForceDecks force plates, where each individual will perform three countermovement jumps after their warm up, before they lift. The force plates are dual platforms that allow us to dissect the performance of a vertical jump: analyzing and interpreting potential fatigue based on the time to load and produce force in their takeoff. Leaning on these tools allows us to adapt the training to the athlete, and apply the right training at the right time in preparation for the games ahead as well as the ultimate goal: being our best when we step foot on the field in Madison for the B1G tournament in May. Ultimately, the performance tests that we continue throughout the season provide confidence to each student-athlete in their preparation and ability to adapt. This group has dedicated themselves each and every day to being their absolute best and I’m excited to see them take advantage of the opportunities ahead.
“Victory is what happens when ten-thousand hours of training meet with one moment of opportunity.”
Iowa traveled to Lafayette, Louisiana, for the Mardi Gras Classic on Feb. 9-11. Two Hawkeye freshmen reflect on what their first road trip meant to them:
My first road trip as a Hawkeye was an experience that I will cherish for the rest of my life. Getting to step on the dirt in the black and gold and represent my university while playing the sport I love is something I have dreamed about since I was twelve years old, and finally getting to live out what I had eagerly anticipated was incredible. All the work I have devoted to softball throughout the years led up to this unforgettable moment, so I took a few minutes to just breathe it all in, and then I focused on the task ahead of me knowing that this next chapter of my life is just getting started. Playing my first collegiate games alongside my amazing teammates made the experience even more enjoyable. I am so grateful to be surrounded by girls that are so supportive and trustworthy, and I know that we are capable of doing great things. I am excited to see how our team will grow and improve throughout this season, and I can’t wait to experience all that we will achieve together this year.
-Freshman infielder Aralee Bogar
Ever since I was young, I have always looked up to the athletes around me who were fortunate enough to play sports at a collegiate level. Now I am one of them. I am living out my dream by wearing the Hawkeye black and gold and stepping out onto the field. When I was younger, I would imagine what my first trip would be like, and this trip exceeded all of my expectations. Nothing compares to the rush I got stepping onto the field with the rest of the team on Friday morning. Seeing our fans who traveled all the way to Louisiana made it that much better. Words cannot describe how happy I am to be a Hawkeye and to be part of such a great team. I am looking forward to the rest of our pre-conference trips and dominating the games while making memories with the team.
-Freshman pitcher Lauren Shaw
Welcome to the season!
Here we sit two days away from opening day, 2018, and I can’t help but reflect on the past five months of preparation that Iowa softball has put in. The managerial staff has helped prepare the team daily to be its best, and they care for them like family. The coaches and staff have spent their every waking hour planning and preparing a path for each individual to be challenged, to be encouraged, to be comfortable being uncomfortable, and to become the best they can. From the excited newcomers stepping onto Pearl Field for the first time as Iowa student-athletes to the returners who are leading this program in their final year while preparing for a life after college — they all have the desire to leave this program better than when they arrived.
And now it’s time!
I can’t help but get excited to step on the field in Lafayette with this group of young women. The process that has been implemented daily will set them up for the opportunity for success with the right attitude and effort. And in life, those are two things that we are in complete control over: attitude and effort. The moment we each wake up in the morning, we have a choice. A choice of the attitude we will have as we approach the 86,400 seconds in this day, and a choice in what kind of effort we will use as we attack the obstacles and opportunities that stand in front of us.
We are ready!
This team is prepared for the challenges that a season brings. We travel to warmer climates to begin our season in Lafayette, LA, College Station, TX, Fullerton, CA, and Phoenix/Tempe, AZ, before we head back to the Midwest and play in Omaha, NE. We get the chance to play in front of our home crowd at Pearl Field 19 times this year as well as travel to College Park, MD, Lincoln, NE, Champaign, Il, Ames, IA, Evanston, IL, and end in Madison, WI, for the Big Ten Tournament. What a great adventure this will be and we hope YOU will be with US every step of the way.
We are one!
This group of individuals has come together as a team, as one unit, and as another chapter of a story that began before most of them were born. To wear IOWA across their chest is an honor and a responsibility. They are ready to write their chapter and to stay T.R.U.E. (Trust each other, Respect each other, Understand one another, and Enjoy each other). We are ready to stand shoulder to shoulder and attack the game the way it was supposed to be played: step to the plate with the confidence that my team can count on me, stop any ball that comes my way, pitch with presence and command, and go to battle with my sisters to the left and right of me.
We Fight. We Fight for Iowa!
-UI head coach, Marla Looper