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.
It’s a bit surreal writing a senior farewell. Preparing for these moments, I couldn’t help but have somewhat of an uneasy connection with the end of my softball career and time here at Iowa, but now as I’m reaching the end, I’m coming to realize that I couldn’t be more content. I am proud of what I was able to accomplish and more importantly experience beside many seasons worth of teammates who were all impactful in their own ways.
I still remember to this day a letter I received my freshman year from a teammate on her senior day. I remember her message as clear as day and know that her unselfishness to inspire and lift me up was the most genuine act she could have done before leaving her mark on this program. I only hope that I was able to have such an impact.
Thank you to all the coaches who have been part of this program. Thank you Coach Adams, my love for softball fully blossomed while playing beneath you. A huge thank you to my family, you all rock.
– #11 Mallory Kilian
I was a sophomore in high school when I committed to play softball at the University of Iowa, and it was the best decision I have ever made. Little did I know that choosing Iowa would have given me the best memories, important life lessons, and friends.
There are endless amounts of memories I have from my four years – amazing trips, bus rides, and so much more. They say when you meet back up with old friends and teammates the amount of “remember when so-and-so did that…” and “can you believe that we used to…” brings you back to all of those moments that made you who you are, and that you wouldn’t want to change that for the world.
One major important life lesson I learned is that 45 pound plates can easily break your toes/foot, so I don’t recommend that! But in all honesty, I learned a lot more than just what the pain of a falling weight feels like – I learned perseverance, how to push until there is absolutely nothing left, and then exceed those limits. I learned how to be the best student I could possibly be, I also learned how to be the be Me.
I will miss the team. I will miss this beautiful University. I will miss stepping out on Pearl on gameday – turning around and seeing a crowd that backs the Black and Gold. I will miss practices. I will miss how the laces feel under my calloused fingertips. I will miss the pre-game locker room jam sessions. I will miss putting on my jersey. I will miss the game. Softball has been my life for so long, and now it is coming to a close. Soon, I will untie my cleats, unstrap my ankle braces, and take off my #6 jersey forever. BUT it’s not over, until it’s over. Fight until the end. Fight For Iowa.
Thank you Hawk fans for welcoming a Texas girl to the Midwest and giving her the best four years of her life. Forever bleed Black and Gold. Go Hawks!
– Erin Riding
This season as a Division I softball player differs a lot from last year’s season as a Division III volleyball player. One of the biggest differences is the time commitment. There really is no offseason at the Division I level. At Iowa, we work just as hard in the offseason as we do during regular season. The fall season is aimed towards getting stronger, better, and working hard to be able to accomplish an elite goal during conference season and on. To be at the Division I level you have to want to put in extra time because that is where you see yourself grow and improve the most.
Competition for each sport is scheduled and played a little different. In volleyball, we would play one game against each team in our conference during the week and then on the weekends we would have tournaments playing non-conference teams. In softball, we play three-game conference series on the weekends and non-conference games during the week. Players at the Division I level are competitive and ambitious. Teammates are aggressive and hold each other to high standards on and off the field. Everyone is always taking extra reps on the field or in the cages on off days. Everyone strives to win with an aggression and drive that is contagious.
There are also many advantages and resources to help athletes at the Division I level that the Division III level didn’t have. Our strength coaches and athletic training staff are equipped with high levels of technology and knowledge that really help us to get stronger and stay healthy. We have a nutrition staff that make sure we have nutritious snacks available and know how to fuel our bodies to perform at our very best. Our athletic advisors help us stay on top of our school work and stay in contact with our professors when we are traveling.
It has always been a hard decision to choose between the two sports because I love them both in different ways, but there is something about the game of softball that I realized I wasn’t ready to give up yet. Getting a chance to play in front of my hometown has been amazing and something I would never take back. It is great to be a Hawkeye!
Playing at Pearl for the first time this season strengthened the pride I have for the University and the name I wear across my chest. Every time I take the field, I fight hard to represent Iowa in the way that it deserves, but playing at home in front our dedicated Hawkeye fans only makes that fight burn deeper inside me. There is no better feeling than standing next to my teammates on the diamond as we give it all we’ve got and hearing the roar of the crowd erupt in support. There are ups and downs in every season and knowing that we have people believing in us gives us the drive we need to continue to press forward through the hard times and keep the momentum going with every success. My teammates and I are working hard to improve each and every day, and I am confident that our hard work will pay off. Keep packing Pearl to watch us as we rise up and fight for Iowa harder than we ever have fought before.
– Aralee Bogar
I didn’t really know what it would be like coming from a junior college to a Division I program. I knew it would be “big time” but I didn’t know or fully understand what all went into that. I have now come to realize that Division I softball is about the work ethic, effort, attitude, and talent. Included in that is incredible athletes, who would do anything to make the team successful and playing for the girl next to them. Putting the team before yourself, putting in the extra work and understanding what you’re there to do. Division I, to me, also means having far more opportunities than any other collegiate level of play. Coming from a junior college, I feel so lucky because there are so many perks of playing at this level. There are people monitoring your grades and athletic tutors to help you with staying on top of your grades while being gone for travel weekly.
At this level I also find it so cool that you can travel and play the around the country and you get to fly to do so. I have realized that this is a luxury of this level of play because at a junior college we didn’t get to do that. If we traveled to play it was by bus. We would drive to places like Mississippi, Georgia, Arkansas, and Montana for our games. We also get to look the part of a Division I athlete. You get hooked up with all the coolest gear for your team and there are people who fix anything for you if things rip, break, or aren’t the right size. You get great pre-game and post-game meals. You get filled with nutritious meals all day long while you’re traveling. There’s a nutritionist who helps your team eat right and athletic academic tutoring to make sure you stay on top of your grades. There are more opportunities to be your best self at a Division I program.
-DoniRae “D-Ray” Mayhew
With three weeks of travel already in the books, I would have to say we’ve experienced everything from smooth travels to a ten-hour delays. We were delayed in Cedar Rapids on our first trip and had a 10-hour layover in Atlanta after missing our connecting flight. We didn’t get into LSU till 12:30 am and woke up early to tackle the first game of the season, which we did by taking down Bucknell! Then the second weekend heading down to Florida, we experienced smooth travels, but on the way back, we were delayed nine hours in the Orlando airport. We landed in Chicago around 12:30 am then drove back to Cedar Rapids, and didn’t get into bed until 5:30 am to wake up at 6:30 am to go to my 8 am class.
All of this was courtesy of the lovely Midwest weather, but it didn’t slow us down. This past weekend we were able to get down and back with no weather stopping us. The travel can wear on us, but we just have to know how to manage our time. With all of the layovers and delays in the airports I have spent the majority of that time studying and getting ahead in my classes but once in a while I’ll take time to relax so I don’t get overwhelmed. You can see the layovers as a blessing in disguise, because I wouldn’t have been able to study as much or get ahead if it wasn’t for those hours spent in the airport. All in all, it’s been a great start to our season regardless of travel and I can’t wait to see what’s next!
The idea of playing in my very first Division I college softball game has always just been a dream that I’ve had time to be excited about and get ready for. Until this past weekend when it wasn’t just a dream I looked forward to anymore, it was here it was happening and it was so amazing. I remember sitting back at one point looking around at the crowd and my teammates just in awe of everything and feeling so blessed that I had the privilege of being there.
It was surreal!
College softball has a different energy that’s just indescribable. You have to be more focused and elevate your game. Just being out there and wearing that Iowa jersey alongside an incredible group of teammates was everything I’d hoped it would be! Traveling with my teammates like we did was something I’d also never experienced before! We did have a little hiccup and spent 9 hours at the Atlanta airport, but even still it was so cool having people stop and talk to us about Iowa softball and it’s fun spending that time with each other as a team!
This was definitely a weekend I will never forget and it makes me even more excited about the rest of the season, it’s going to be a great one!
We are excited and ready to finally enter our first game week of the 2019 season. We have all been working very hard inside and outside of practice to prepare for these preseason tournaments and are more than ready to take on the warm weather and sunshine.
The week of our first season tournament is always exciting and fun because everyone involved in the team is ready to show what we have been working on throughout the offseason. We are ready to play. This particular week is extremely exciting because we are a completely new team and no one but us knows what to expect from us this season. Although we all know what this team and coaching staff has to offer, we are eager to show everyone else who we are and what we can do.
We are ready to rebuild the Iowa Softball name and knowing that the start is only a few days away electrifies all of us. The energy this team has carried throughout all of the offseason and preseason is ecstatic. We are all prepared to put all of it on the field this weekend when we travel to Louisiana.
Starting 2nd semester knowing that season was right around the corner was almost more exciting to me than starting my first semester at college. Academically, the team is working hard in the classroom to have a strong start to this semester and then also working to get ahead in classes, communicating with our professors about our travel schedule. Knowing that our first game is fast approaching next weekend, the tone at practice has been more determined and intense. We are soaking up all the knowledge we can from the coaches and maximizing our work at practice and in the weight room to improve every day. We have also been getting to know each other much better on and off the field. I know I can speak for the team when I say that we are itching for next Friday to fully kick off our spring season and I personally could not be more excited. We have come so far in the improvements made since August and in developing our new culture for success on and off the field. The team is locked in and ready to show the new standard we are creating for Iowa Softball.
Settling back into this new semester has definitely been an exciting topic for the team. We have been going since January 7th with our trip to Florida and hitting the ground running coming back to Iowa City with our team practices and spring season right around the corner. At this time, I feel like all of us are adjusting to our new academic schedule as well and preparing our agendas to become the best student-athletes that we can be this semester on and off the field. With the new staff coming in in the fall and doing a tremendous job with getting us ready mentally and physically for this year’s season, I think that settling in with all the new surroundings is something that we will be able to handle with ease because we have been prepared for it. Also, settling in has been made so much easier due to the fact that we truly enjoy being around each other and have fun whether it’s in practice, scrimmages, or sometimes even hanging out outside of softball in general. The atmosphere this year is surrounded with competitiveness, but it is also surrounded by the love of the game. I think that with our camaraderie and our drive to set new standards and define our culture together we will be able to handle the challenges ahead of us. Most importantly, we will conquer these challenges together.
– Liz DeShields
Academic Coordinator Troy Wulf
I am the Academic Coordinator for the softball team. Each student has an academic advisor assigned to her that will serve as her primary advisor for her chosen degree. I work with the student and the University advisor to assist students in enrolling in the appropriate courses needed to progress towards graduation. I work with students to ensure the follow and meet institutional and NCAA academic guidelines so they are not only eligible to compete, but graduate. I will also assist students in getting referred to those that can provide them services (tutoring, study groups, programming, etc.), information, or support on campus.
I meet with all first-year students on weekly basis and try to attend practices once per week to have an opportunity to see those that I don’t meet with regularly. Our biggest challenge in the spring is typically handing travel and their time away from campus. Communication and time management are stressed by everyone around the program, and thankfully, our softball athletes do a very good job in both of these areas. We have some phenomenal young women on the team that are doing a great job in the classroom and I expect that to show on the field this spring.
– Troy Wulf
Athletic Trainer Haley Simmons
It has been an exciting fall with a big group of incoming student athletes and a new coaching staff that have that brought enthusiasm and fresh energy to the program. While the fall can feel slow at times without many games, it’s been fun to watch the ladies switch from training as individuals over the summer back into one cohesive team as foundations in softball skills, strength and conditioning, and overall wellness are laid for the spring ahead.
In combination with our team physician, strength and conditioning coach, sport dietitian, and sport psychologist I work to keep all of our student athletes healthy and ready to step on the field feeling their best. To ensure this, I cover all practices and games whether we’re at home or on the road, complete daily rehab with the athletes, and do all I can to take care of their physical, mental, and emotional well-being each and every day. Whether it be rehabbing back from a major surgery or just pre-game stretching, I truly love getting to be a part of the reason our athletes get to play the sport they love.
Today we’re heading off to Florida to kick start our spring training with a week of playing out in the sun, and most importantly, on dirt! I’m so excited to watch all of their hard work pay off on the field this spring.
– Haley Simmons
Coach Rick Dillinger
Born and raised in Iowa as a Hawkeye fan, I married a Hawkeye fan, and we passed our love of the Hawks to our two sons, their wives, and our grandchildren. What a great opportunity it has been to become part of the Iowa Softball family as an assistant coach. Being part of the Hawkeye softball program has been an exciting learning experience. Much progress has been made with the team and our softball culture of WIN—GRADUATE—DO IT RIGHT. It has been enjoyable watching the growth of our players this fall as they prepare for the upcoming season.
The last eight weeks have been a whirlwind of activities:
•Six recruiting trips across the country.
•Meeting former Iowa Hawkeye softball players and being told about their love of the program.
•Individual and team workouts, and players getting stronger in the weight room.
•Team mental training by reading the book “The Energy Bus”. Hopefully everyone is excited to be a part of the Iowa Softball Energy Bus.
•The softball team writing their softball mission statement and setting goals.
•Hosting softball camps.
•The softball holiday party.
•Our softball staff attending the NFCA coaches’ convention in Chicago.
•Taking a NFCA coaching course in Advanced Analysis of Pitching.
•Softball players studying for final exams.
The players are dreaming BIG. We are looking forward to the upcoming spring season of Iowa softball. Wishing everyone a safe and happy holiday! Go Hawks!
– Coach Rick Dillinger
Coach Trena Prater
It has truly been a blessing joining Hawkeye Nation. Thus far, the Power Five experience has been like no other. The welcoming I received during the interview process was unbelievable. It was made clear then that the athletic department is invested in its motto “WIN-GRADUATE-DO IT RIGHT!” I love the genuine cohesiveness between our staff, coaches, and student-athletes. With the resources available, coach Gillispie has selected a staff who has winning experience and, more importantly, know how to compete for a Big Ten Championship.
Working with the team this fall has been amazing. My greatest reward for coaching is to see our girls smiling and loving the game of softball again. Each day they demonstrate the enthusiasm necessary to succeed on the field and in the classroom. In just a short fall season, we have elevated individual skill sets necessary to strengthen the team’s game day-mental approach. I’m optimistic and excited for their return from winter break. Even more so, eager to compete for the 2019 Big Ten Championship this spring.
Like any sport, the calendar of softball presents its opportunities and challenges, but in comparison to other sports there are great opportunities with how the softball championship season matches up with our academic calendar at the collegiate level, especially for our first-year student-athletes. We want our young women to feel and play their very best when it matters most in the month of May and playing as much into June as possible. Our ultimate competitive goal and mission is to be impactful in the post-season, but all good things must come to an end.
As the season culminates, our student-athletes transition to their true off-season. The summer is their time to be with family, build their resumes through internships and experiences, work ahead in the classroom, and most importantly from my perspective continue and transition their development as an Iowa softball player. This is a rejuvenation period, where we allow a mental and physical break from the demands of practice and training and refocus our efforts toward the next season ahead. For many, this is a huge opportunity to refocus on themselves, exploring and navigating the training process, and addressing individual areas of improvement, eliminating weaknesses in their physical performance as training picks back up in June and July.
August quickly approaches and brings the team together on campus, initial assessments begin with our newcomers as well as retesting all returners. This provides direction for me to the areas of weakness as we perform a full gambit of strength, power, and endurance tests; creating a profile of strengths and areas of improvement for each individual.
Just as the fall temperatures drop in mid-October, our fall season ends and we provide the team a time to refocus and transition to our true on campus off-season training phase. A week to recharge the batteries mentally and physically and come into our final four weeks before Thanksgiving.
Threads of speed, power, ability to change direction, and endurance remain, but with the time allowed we primarily focus on building our force outputs through strength development. Technique has been established from our work earlier in the fall, and intensity increases. Less time and energy is dedicated to softball, and Coach Gillispie and I prioritize the physical development of the athletes.
Then comes the challenges associated with our schedule, in that we have a week for Thanksgiving break that allows athletes time with family to refocus for the final three weeks of school. As we return for the final weeks of November-December, we build upon our new-found levels of strength and force outputs and look to increase the capacity and volume at which we operate. Training takes somewhat of a backseat as finals present the primary stress for our bodies and mind. As always, a thread remains, and when our young women finish final exams and head home for winter break, they are able to apply all they learned from August through December to training and developing themselves for the season ahead.
Throughout the season our speed, power, and strength is maintained through 2-3 days of training. The dosage is simply lowered as the focus is playing softball at a high level. How much we lift in a given exercise, how high we jump, or how fast we run are purely numbers. These numbers are our focus in November and December as they provide confidence to our time and efforts through the off-season and are a measure of our progress.
What truly decides our success is having our best team on the field and ready to play at a high level starting mid-February and building an unstoppable force into Championship season in May. Our work in and throughout the year allows that, as we continue to teach, coach, and grow as a team. 2019 is guaranteed to showcase a new level for our program as we have had a very productive off-season.
This fall has brought many new faces and new opportunities for the University of Iowa softball program. Our team has worked hard this fall in order to improve upon our previous season. We spend each day looking towards the season and possibilities that lie ahead while also using our past failures to learn and grow as a team. We are doing so by working to create a new found, hard-working culture. A culture that all of us will be proud to leave behind when our time here is done. Whether we are pushing ourselves further in the weight room or bonding as a team, we have taken strides forward to better ourselves as individuals as well as a team. As a team, we have dedicated ourselves to working hard for each other and playing for those who stand beside us on that diamond. This offseason has also been composed of breaking down and working on our weaknesses while also staying true to ourselves and building upon the strengths we already possess. It is our goal to get better each day, no matter what the circumstances. As we look forward to the upcoming season, our team is excited to continue to reach the goals we have set for ourselves in order to reach higher heights than ever before!
-Allison Doocy #3
The fall is winding down, and were about to take off for thanksgiving/winter break. As they all do, this year has seemed to be flying by and with the new staff and large incoming class things are running smoothly. Each year, returners come back starting a new season with a different team, and with that comes many learning opportunities to each individual. I’ve grown and learned different things each year but this year has me open more than ever and eager to learn and grow through all the individuals I get to interact with this season. Being a senior, I’m looking forward to guiding at times when I need to, voicing what I’ve learned throughout the years, and being an example for the team at all times of this season.
– Mallory Killian
A lot has changed since the season ended last spring. Not only has Iowa Softball gained new coaches, it has also said farewell to last year’s seniors and welcomed new teammates. The returners are also beginning another chapter, wise with the experience we gained from last season. Stepping foot on Pearl again for the first time this fall was familiar but fresh, with the buzz of a new culture surging through our team. We have been working extremely hard this fall, and our new coaches have made an amazing impact already, guiding and encouraging us to play to our full potential.
Having one year of college softball under my belt, I feel prepared and excited for another round. I now know what it takes to compete at this level, and more importantly, the improvements I need to make to help my team succeed. My first season taught me so much about the game and myself. I have felt the indescribable joy of an upset win in the Big Ten tournament, and I have experienced the devastating sting of a season ending too soon. One thing is for sure, I NEVER want to feel the second one again. So, with the fall winding down and a spring full of new opportunities approaching, my team and I are eager to take the field, fighting together to reach our goals. I’ll see you out at Pearl!
-Aralee Bogar #2
Coach Gillispie – Settling in Iowa
Wow…..Iowa. What an incredible place to live, work, and play!
Needless to say… It’s been a busy fall season.
Check off sheet:
✔ Moved from Florida
✔ Strengthened the Hawkeye softball program and began recruiting Iowa.
✔ Moved into house in Iowa
✔ Hired the best staff ever
✔ Developed a new winning team culture
✔ Saw excellent support of fans and alumni – We all love our Iowa softball!
✔ Had a very productive fall season minus the RAIN.
✔ Incredible Student-athletes to work with – Love them all!!
✔ Bought parka/long johns.
What an incredible ride this fall with practice, games, community service projects, speaking engagements, and home football recruiting weekends. I love experiencing the “Iowa Nice” and having a blast working with an extraordinary staff at the University of Iowa.
Fall season showed great progress. I witnessed our student-athletes improve every day. They are supportive of each other and understand our expectation to Win, Graduate and Do it Right.
We are all committed to excellence on and off the field which will make for an exciting spring softball season.
I am truly blessed!!!