Friday, September 4, 2009

The 2009-10 season begins!

It's finally here! The day I've been waiting for! The first day of the "2010" season. We started out with a great conditioning session and will have an intense tryout session this afternoon. I can't wait! We have a great returning group of players, as well as some very talented freshmen, but "Talent is never enough", so we'll have to work very hard and efficiently if we are to accomplish our goals for the season. We've put together a great schedule - and a very tough schedule at that, opening up in the Lead Off Classic in Panama City Beach, FL, in March, and then we'll get to experience more of a "minor league" schedule and road trip, as we traverse by bus to Iowa and Illinois during our spring break week the last week in March. It will be a challenging trip, but it will be a very good experience and will test our stamina, our ability to spend a lot of time together in very close quarters, and it is my hope that week will really help us "seal the deal" on our team building, leadership, and forming a tight-knit group who will go to battle for each other. No better way to try to accomplish those goals......

Until next time.

Coach Huntington

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Tragedy Closer to Home

When we hear of tragedy in the world of sports, so often it is because something has happened to one of the "larger than life" sports figures that everyone knows. Today, it's closer to home.

This morning, the head football coach at Aplington-Parkersburg (Iowa) High School was shot and killed by a former player in the high school weight room, allegedly in front of about 50 students. It's close to home because I grew up in Riceville, Iowa, a town of about 800 people, similar to Parkersburg, in that it is a small, rural, Iowa town. It's close to home because it's an innocent place where things like this just aren't supposed to happen.

Why do these senseless things happen? It appears as though this former player was mentally ill, as you can read in the article. I'm not even going to ATTEMPT to express my thoughts on why - I'm sure I would offend some, and I'd likely do an injustice to this coach by trying to put it into my own humble words.

Nonetheless, I am deeply saddened.

The lives of many have been deeply affected today - and for what? What was the motive? Those of us who are not there could speculate forever, but it won't do anyone any good.

As I write this I reflect on the things written about this coach - about the former players who are now playing in the NFL.

About remembering while I was going to school in Iowa - what a traditional powerhouse A-P was in football.

About the coaches who have impacted my life.

About coming home from basketball practice in high school cursing my coaches and swearing I was going to quit......but I never did.

I never quit because that's what I was taught - by my parents AND my coaches. And realizing once I got into my career that it was those experiences that taught me the most.

The times I thought I was going to pass out if I ran one more line drill.

The times I thought I was going to quit because I was the "only one" who got yelled at.

The times I thought that the only thing that mattered was ME, not the TEAM.

The times I wondered why in the heck we were doing those stupid fundamental drills all the time in practice, rather than just "scrimmaging."

The times I swore if one more time I heard the words "discipline" or "committment" or "Together Each Achieves More" and thought about how cheesy all that stuff was, I was going to puke.

The times I thought that my coaches were just on a power trip and wanted to see how much pain they could inflict through the conditioning and mental toughness drills.

Then I think about the time that we pulled off the hugest upset in Iowa High School girls basketball - beating Ventura and Lynn Lorenzen, to get to the State Tournament for the first time in school history - it all started to sink in and make sense.

The coaches who pushed and pushed and demanded and yelled and criticized.......they became your biggest fan.

They taught you the things that ironically you're using every day of your life in your job, and with your significant other, and with your kids.

And the things that helped you form a stronger relationship with your parents because you understand the sacrifices that not only mom and dad, but your coaches made for you.

You understand all the time and energy they put into helping you become successful.

You understand that to you it was just a game, but to your coaches, it was what put a roof over their heads and food on their table. It wasn't your life, but it was "life and death" to your coaches.

You understand that they aren't coaches for a living, but for loving, because they barely get paid enough to put that food on their table.

All those things they taught you about

being on time
contributing to a cause greater than yourself
being a part of a "second family"
being a team player
managing your time
studying hard so you could continue to play
showing empathy for a down teammate
becoming a leader
performing when the pressure was on
winning AND losing with class
respecting all but fearing none.

This post isn't about me - it's about the impact that coaches always have, and always will, make on the lives of the young people they come into contact with. In the case of Coach Thomas, not only did he impact the lives of those young people, but from what I've read today, he also impacted an entire community. From what I've read today, he understood and lived by the value of community - at a time when the community was ripped apart by mother nature, he understood that the community needed to heal. And football was more than just a game played on Friday night under the lights beneath the Iowa sky - it was something that helped a community come together to rebuild and heal.

Never underestimate the value of a coach.

May you rest in peace, Coach Thomas.

Monday, June 22, 2009

This one’s for Sean!

I was reminded yesterday by my buddy, Sean, who helps out with a local softball program, that I need to post more often - so this one's for you Sean!

I know it's been a really long time since I've posted and I don't have any excuses. May just slipped away, and so far, June has as well. I was actually amazed at how long May seemed, but now I feel that June is flying by.

Lots of recruiting going on this summer - attending many tournaments in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Illinois.

I've also taken to a little woodworking - I'm constructing bean bag boards, otherwise known as "Cornhole Boards". I learned that they are called Cornhole boards because the bags are filled with corn. Anyway, I constructed my first set last week and now they are sitting in the garage waiting for the sander and some paint and lacquer. I'm excited to finish them, but have to make some time to do it. The plan is to customize them so they are unique - and then use them on vacation the week after July 4th. :)

I'm also enjoying spending time with my dad on the river, area lakes, etc., in his fishing boat. The fishing hasn't been very good, and I'm not picky - I'll catch anything that will bite. But they don't seem to be biting much when I'm out there. I hear all kinds of stories, but the stories don't hold up when it's MY line in the water. I must be doing something wrong - or as one guy in a bait shop told me the other day "I'm trying too hard." I must say that I've learned a lot about fishing this summer because I insist that if you have the right "bait presentation" (one term I've learned) then you should catch fish, regardless. But I haven't got it down yet. I DID actually catch a couple fish last Friday night on the Chippewa River down by the dam just north of downtown - a big ugly catfish and a sheephead - and like I said, I don't care what I catch...... one of the poles I use is an Ultralight Ugly Stick with 4 pound test line - I thought for sure that I'd lose the catfish - you should have seen that pole bend! But I got him in despite the wimpy pole. Dad threatened to throw my medium-action rod in the river if I caught another fish with my ultralight - I might actually let him do it if that little pole keeps catching fish!

Well, I better move on with my day, but I wanted to give Sean something to read today, so I needed to do this post. I'll try harder to keep things updated, Sean!

Have a great day!

Coach Huntington

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Finally – an update!

Hello Blugold Fastpitch Fans!
I know it's been way too long since I last posted, but things have been crazy busy. I know it's no excuse, but I'm going to use it as one anyway! :)

We've played a LOT of games since I last posted, including a grueling week this past week, which was supposed to end with a doubleheader at Whitewater today. Well, that game got postponed to tomorrow (Monday, 4/20), but that's looking a little "iffy" as well, due to rain. It's a frustrating position to be in - the travel time, costs, and taking players out of class are all real issues......and the missed class time, especially as we draw near to finals week. But you can't do anything about the weather, and unfortunately we have to rely on forecasts that are far from you just do the best you can and hope you've made the right decision. We probably could have played today, but with 70-80% chance of rain in the forecast for today, it made sense to postpone.

I'm not going to breakdown the past 3 weeks of games at this point - it would take me all night to recall everything - but I will just mention that yesterday our team played with a refreshed passion and we saw a lot of good things - from our pitchers, to our defense, to our bats. We're hoping we can sustain the momentum at this point and make a real run in the WIAC Tournament in a couple weeks.

One final note tonight - we had our last home game last Wednesday vs. St. Norbert College. My parents were at the game and had a green Army-issued blanket with them. They brought it back with them from Germany when my Dad's enlistment time was's over 40 years old......well, it was sitting in a spot on the bleachers behind home plate, and when they went to grab it after the games were over, it was gone......someone had taken it. It's very unfortunate that it was taken, and my parents were obviously (and still are) upset that they no longer have it. My mom asked me to mention it in my blog, with hopes that whoever took the blanket might read this and have the decency to return it. If you have it and you are reading this, you can return the blanket to the UW Eau Claire Athletic Department - no questions asked.......we'd just like to have that blanket back - as insignificant as it might seem to anyone else.

Thanks for reading.

Coach H.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Leave a Legacy Weekend – A SUCCESS!!!

Good evening Blugold Fans!

I am writing after a little down time today, and after reflecting on what a great day (although completely exhausting) it was yesterday as we celebrated our "Leave a Legacy Weekend." The past 4 days have been a flurry of activity.

Wednesday - home opener scheduled vs. St. Norbert College. Cancelled at about 10 a.m. due to snow and cold conditions. We ended up rescheduling for April 15th at 4 p.m. at Gelein Field.

Thursday - second attempt at our "official" home opener - also WIAC opener vs. UW River Falls. It was a pretty nice day and we played both games against a scrappy Falcon team - we managed to win both games.

Friday - our rescheduled doubleheader vs. UW Platteville. This game was originally scheduled for today, but given the weather forecast, Platteville agreed with the idea of moving the game to Friday at 2:00. It turned out to be a beautiful day and again, we managed to win both games.

Saturday - this doubleheader was played as originally scheduled as well against UW LaCrosse. It was a big day for us, as the day started with a tailgate party in Carson Park near the ball diamond. BBQ Express catered the event, and I was told it was very successful. We weren't able to attend the tailgate because we were preparing for the game.

The game, of course, was the main event, but there were a lot of prize giveaways, and 3 pink jerseys that were signed by the team were raffled off as a fundraiser for Breast Cancer Awareness, as well as for our softball program. The jerseys were replicas of the pink jerseys that our players wore yesterday.

Prior to game 1, we recognized the 4 seniors on the team this year - Kristi Doucette, Jen Barron, Betsy Kettinger, and Bri Sturm.

Also prior to game 1, Sandy Schumacher threw out a ceremonial first pitch - this is the second year she has done it and she is pretty amazing. You should see this woman play golf!!!! (more on who Sandy is in an upcoming paragraph)

Game 1 was a marathon - one of the longest 7 inning games I've been in - it lasted almost 2 1/2 hours. Two pitching changes by each team, a total of almost 30 hits, and 18 runs, along with many other substitutions of pinch runners, etc., and that equals a LONG GAME! It really felt like a 10 round prize fight - both teams battled all game long - back and forth......but when it was said and done, we came out on top in that one 10-8.

In between games all the alumnae in attendance were recognized on the field - it was amazing to see all the former players who made the time and effort to come back this year - I was so proud..... :)

Game 2 was a very different story. Still a lot of hits, but not as many runs - and not much defense on our part, that's for sure. We committed 4 physical errors, and if they used mental errors as a statistic, we probably would have set a single game record in that category. I was pretty disappointed in our defense, but the things that happened are things that can be fixed, and if we can clean that up, we'll finish strong. I take nothing away from UW LaCrosse, however. They are tough - they are very fast up and down their lineup and they executed well. They are a solid fundamental team, and I expect them to finish very high in the league this year.

We didn't spend much time dwelling on the games right after Game 2, as we all had to get moving to get cleaned up for our Leave a Legacy Reception and dinner, which was supposed to start at 6:30. I think it was about 5:45 when we got done at the field, so we all rushed out so we could finish up the weekend at the Quality Inn, who was one of the sponsors of our event.

At the reception and dinner, Mancino's catered a pizza and pasta buffet and I heard several comments about the food being real good. I don't know - I didn't get a chance to eat......but I'm a little TOO familiar with Mancino's food, so I'm sure it was great! :)

Casey Leisgang and Jill Janke put together a video for the program but had some major technical difficulties, so we weren't able to watch it. They spent HOURS putting this video together, and they were so disappointed that it didn't work. Gotta love technology! So we're going to find a way to get the video on the internet somehow so everyone can still enjoy it. The rest of the program consisted of several alumnae getting up and speaking as part of an "open mic" type of format - the stories that were told illicited SO much laughter - I'm not sure when was the last time I laughed that hard.

Special guests at the dinner included the original coach of the club softball program at UW Eau Claire before it became a varsity sport - Sandy Schumacher, as well as the coaches that were here before Robin and me - JoEllen Bailey and Deb Steward. It was so fun to see them have a chance to spend time with so many of the players they coached while they were here. We had over 30 alumnae here for the event, and I had many comments of how much fun they had and how special it was. I think our attempt to "bridge the gap" between the players from JoEllen and Deb and the players who have played for Robin and me was a success. They ended the evening having an awful lot of fun together!

Again, Charter Communications "hit this one out of the park" with all their contributions to such a successful day. They basically put the whole day together for us - we really just had to show up. I want to give special props to Joe Buttel, Nicole Hoffman, and Marty Hendricks for all their work to make this day SO special. You guys kicked it, and I look forward to our continued relationship with you and your efforts toward Breast Cancer Awareness/Research.

Well, before I have to have carpal tunnel surgery from all this typing, I should wrap this one up. This week SHOULD be much less hectic. We have practice Monday and Tuesday, then play at UW Stout on Wednesday at 4:00, practice Thursday, and then we're home again on Friday vs. UW Superior at 4:00, before taking next weekend off for Easter. The MOST exciting thing about this week - the WEATHER looks like we're heading toward a MAJOR improvement - it's ABOUT TIME!!!!! :)

Go Tar Heels and Sooners! :)

- Coach H.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Is it really game day? Or are you just teasing?

I sit here thinking we're really playing today - game on.......and today, I really mean it. It's going to be cold, but it's no longer snowing, the grass is pretty clear, and yesterday afternoon Gelein Field was in great shape. We're playing ball today!

It's our WIAC opener today vs. UW River Falls. They are fairly young, but you just can't take any team in the WIAC for granted. Our players are very excited to play, and especially to be opening up conference play. I don't think we'll have any trouble with energy today - plus, energy will keep them warmer!

Another schedule update - we'll be playing UW Platteville THIS FRIDAY, rather than Sunday. The forecast is MUCH better on Fri. than Sunday, so it made sense to reschedule. It does put just a little damper on our Leave a Legacy weekend plans, but Saturday is going to be so full of activities that I don't think anyone will mind. Another benefit to that is that we'll be able to relax and enjoy the alumnae reception and dinner on Saturday night without having to think about playing a DH the next always works itself out.

I'd like to give special props today to Dave Olson at Parkridge Distributing. Yesterday afternoon Coach Baker and I went out to the field just to check the conditions and much to our pleasant surprise, there were 3 banners being displayed. Two on the bleachers on each side of the field, and the other on the scoreboard just below the words "Gelein Field", that says "2008 National Champions". We were very surprised when we pulled up as they are very eye-catching signs - the players are going to flip when they see them this afternoon. Dave has done, and is continuing to do, an incredible job for Blugold Athletics. He has "over-delivered" and has gone above and beyond. What a great relationship! Thank you Ole'! Dave has a little softball player, Madison, too, so if he didn't take care of us, he'd probably get scolded at home! :)

Well, time to get moving and get ready for the day - thanks for reading, and see you at the ballpark!

Coach Huntington

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Hurry up and wait! Part 2

Greetings Blugold Faithful!

Well, Mother Nature is speaking loud and clear again. We were able to get 3 games in on Sunday afternoon at Carson Park on the football field. It was actually a great atmosphere and much to my amazement, there were close to 150 people there! I think the novelty of playing on the football turf was intriguing, and that may have brought some people out, but possibly the fact that this was our first home game of the 2009 season, and, really, it was a beautiful day. The sun was shining, very little wind, and now we really know what the TV announcers are talking about when they talk about the air temperature vs. the "temperature on the turf" at stadiums. It definitely was warmer on the turf, and I appreciated that! :)

We had a good day offensively on Sunday and everyone played again. Our pitchers need to cut down on walks - and if we can do that, we'll be in good shape. But we gave opponents far too many free passes on Sunday.

So yesterday was our "off" day and we'll be back at it again today, likely in the gym again. It's really too bad we didn't have a game scheduled yesterday - it was relatively warm, and Gelein Field was in great shape. I went out to Carson Park to check it out yesterday afternoon and it was beautiful! Every year I think that maybe our games should just be on a day-by-day basis - rather than schedule everything in advance, we should just leave the schedule blank and call each other like crazy the morning of a nice day. I know that's not viable, but sometimes it seems like it would be less work.

We're scheduled to play St. Norbert tomorrow at 3:00 in a DH - we're not supposed to get a lot of precip today, and temps in the upper 30's tomorrow may be the best we can do. If there's not a lot of wind, we'll likely go ahead and play. If temperature is the only factor, we can't afford to cancel game after game after game and stockpile the season at the end of April again - that's not good for anyone. Besides, I've seen plenty of games on the Big 10 Network where they're playing in sub-freezing temps - it's probably harder on the coaches and support staff than it is on the players! :)

Hope to see you at the park - bring your parka!

Coach Huntington

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Home Games!

I'm about to head out to Carson Park to get ready for our first home games of the season, but wanted to write a quick update on today. All the info needed should already be on our athletics website, but maybe some of you only read my blog and don't look too closely at the website - so for what it's worth...... :)

Plan A: play on the turf of the football field at Carson Park. Yesterday afternoon we measured everything out so our fence placement spots are marked for quick and easy set up. Right field will be slightly short, but the City put the outfield extensions on the the baseball field last week, so it is an 8' fence in right, which makes up for the slight distance discrepancy.......good timing!

Plan B: In the event that Gelein field is in playable condition at game time, we'll quickly carry the fence panels over to that field and play a "real" home game! So if you have strong arms and legs, we can use your help to carry the fence! The individual panels are pretty light, so it should make for quick work if everyone grabs a panel.

I'm really hoping Gelein gets itself ready, but we have no control over that. We practiced yesterday at our practice field at the Bollinger Complex, and it was quite soupy during the time we were out there, but it firmed up into playable conditions in the afternoon, so we'll just have to see. I had heard a rumor about the depth of the frost this year, but don't know how true it was. Talk of the frost being 8' deep - so I imagine that would take awhile to come out, and we need to have nights above freezing to make that happen. We're optimistic that the field will be ready for our home games next week, but again, no control over that, so we'll "hurry up and wait."

Games today: UWEC vs. Northland 12:00, UWEC vs. St. Scholastica 2:00 and 4:00.

See you at the ballpark!

Coach Huntington

Friday, March 27, 2009

Hurry up and wait!

The official "Hurry up and Wait" season has begun. It seems like that is the theme once we're back from our spring trip - we "hurry up" to get prepared to play the games that were originally on our schedule, and then we "wait" to actually play because the weather causes delays. You'd think one year after another of this would be enough to drive any softball coach way the heck out of Wisconsin, but yet I stay.......I guess I'm pretty happy here.....after all - the summers are amazing, unlike the Iowa summers when there was a severe storm every day that made me feel every day that my life was at risk. AND THE HUMIDITY!!!! LOL!!!! I do enjoy the summers here much more than Iowa - I rarely have to use my central air conditioning during the summer, and I absolutely LOVE to have the windows open in my house, so I guess the LONG winters are a compromise.......however, I DO plan to "winter" in the south when I retire, but that means a LOT of winter between now and then. Oh well......

I'm a bit tired - ok REALLY tired - tonight - just in case you thought the rambling in the paragraph above was normal......but I wanted to write a quick post about the games we have coming up on Sunday. Our trip to St. Louis was canceled when the major threat of rain/snow/sleet/slush, etc. factored in. We had to make the decision that the money we would spend and time on the road just wasn't worth it to MAYBE play a game. So once we made the decision to stay home, I got busy trying to figure out how we could make the weekend really worthwhile. I sent a text message to my buddy, Steve Wammer, the head coach and AD at Northland College in Ashland, WI, to see if, by chance, he might need to get another game on his schedule. Much to my amazement, he was in need of a game, so I told him we were working on getting things lined up to play on Sunday. In the meantime, Robin (my asst. coach) called Jen Walter at St. Scholastica to ask her the same question. At first she said no - she had just given her players the weekend off and many of them were headed home. But she called back and said that she could round them up and come down to play. We are ECSTATIC!!!! We ALL need to play games, and we'll play on Sunday either at our practice field at the Bollinger Complex at the corner of Stein and MacArthur, or on the turf at Carson Park. The only reason we would play on the turf is if the frost rears its ugly head in the next 24 hours and the field gets sloppy......but after 2 trips out to the field today, our chances look pretty good.

So game times for Sunday are 12:00, 2:00, and 4:00. We will play Northland at noon, then a doubleheader vs. St. Scholastica. The players are pretty excited to play, as three of them sent me text messages full of affection today when I told them that we would possibly be playing this weekend. :)

So with that, we'll see you at the diamond!

Coach Huntington

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Nice Week

Hello Blugold Faithful,

Well, it's been a nasty bite of reality since we returned from Tucson - haven't been able to practice outside since we've been back - but we're going out today, even though it's not supposed to hit 40, we just need to get outside to work on some defense today. So it will be short and sweet, focused on defense.

We head out for St. Louis tomorrow afternoon for a TOUGH weekend of games. We are ready for it and we need it. I think the team understands what happened in our downfall in our final 2 games in Tucson, and they are prepared to overcome those things. We will be challenged this weekend in all 4 games - so we need to be prepared to "bring it." This is a great opportunity for us leading up to our conference opener next week on Thursday vs. UWRF.

Next week's weather is not looking real good, but it can change so fast that I'm not getting too excited at this point. All I really want is for April 4th to happen. I'll deal with the rest of it......but I don't want to let down the many alumnae - both players and parents - who are planning to return to Eau Claire for our 25th Anniversary Celebration. I know I can't control the weather, so it is what it is, but I would give anything for a decent day. On the other hand, if you've been involved in softball in Wisconsin at all in your life, you understand the way the weather works, and you all will be just as appreciative if the weather cooperates! :)

For those of you who read this and live outside the Eau Claire area, (or if you don't have Charter cable) I am going to attempt to insert the video of a commercial that is currently running on Charter, a corporate partner. They have worked extremely hard to get things organized to help us run a first class event next weekend, and they even did a commercial to help promote it. Some of the players on the team have commented that they've either had the TV or the radio on and suddenly are haunted by my voice, only to realize that it's a commercial. Then by the time they realize what's going on, they haven't had a chance to see or listen to the entire thing. :) It's been quite amusing to listen to them describe the experience of hearing my voice out of nowhere in their dorm room or their house!

We can use all your energy right now to bring on some decent weather! Thanks!

Have a great day, and keep turning left - eventually it will get you HOME! :)

Coach Huntington

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

News on “Leave a Legacy Weekend” – Tailgate Party

Just in......the softball alumnae tailgate party on Saturday, April 4, will be held in the Oak Pavilion in Carson Park. That's the one that is just down the hill from the football stadium at the bottom of the driveway that goes up into the concessions area. Did that make sense? Here is a map:

In the event of rain, the tailgate party will run from 11-2, rather than 11-1. We are still working on an indoor activity if weather should cause the cancellation of the games.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Tucson Games Wrap Up

Blugold Fans,

Our spring trip didn't end exactly the way we wanted - we lost both games on our final day - but we were challenged, and we definitely needed that. Unfortunately, we did not respond to the challenges the way I hoped we would. We lost to an always scrappy, feisty, Central team 4-6, and then lost a slugfest to Denison 10-11. I wouldn't have thought we would lose a game when we scored 10 runs, but our defense really let us down in that game.

After having a couple days to reflect on our final day and our trip overall, I'm encouraged by the things we did and what I saw in our team. To panic at this point (after 2 losses on the final day)would be senseless - I think we have a good team - we just have to put things together and continue improving.

I think our team grew together over the course of our week. I witnessed a lot of laughter, jokes, games being played - very intensely and competitively, I might add - and just good times that our team had together. Those types of things are just as important as the games at this time of year.

I'm afraid the weather forecast doesn't look favorable this week in Eau Claire. Even though the temperatures don't look bad, the rainy forecast isn't encouraging. Nonetheless, we'll go outside if at all possible and practice on the turf at Carson Park. We have some specific things we need to work on this week before we head to St. Louis for games at Washington University on Saturday and Sunday. We'll work on those things this week, rain or shine, and get ourselves ready to play. Hopefully the weather will cooperate and we'll be able to get our 4 games in down there.

I'll continue to keep the blog updated and remind Kidnie and Kristi that they need to update their blog on the NCAA website too - I'm sure they'll have some much more entertaining news for all the Blugold Fastpitch followers.

As always, remember to run 60 feet and turn left........

Coach Huntington

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Tucson Games – Day 5

Greetings again, faithful Blugold Fastpitch blog followers!

It was another good day for the Blugolds. We gave up 10 runs in 2 games today, but we also scored 25 of our own, so I guess I can't complain too much. I'd like to see us give up fewer runs - if we face an opponent with dominant pitching, we could be in trouble. Today we defeated Pomona-Pitzer College 13-5 and Denison University 12-5. We are a little beat up now that the end of the week is drawing near, so it's probably good that our last day is tomorrow. However once again we've been able to play a lot of people, so that is helping with the aches and pains. It is what it is - no excuses.

Tomorrow morning bright and early we play a scrappy Central team for the second time this week. We will need to come out prepared to play, as Central always takes full advantage of an opponent's miscues. We follow the Central game with another game against today's game 2 opponent, Denison University. Immediately following that game we'll head back to the hotel to shower, pack up, eat, and hit the road to fly home from Phoenix.

Tonight I'll feature 3 Blugold players who had notable performances today. First is freshman Jess Freagon from Chippewa Falls McDonnel High School. Jess played shortstop for us today and hit the ball very hard all day. But the most memorable incident from the day was the pop up that her shoestrings interfered with. As she was retreating deep into the 5/6 hole to catch a pop up, one of her shoelaces got caught on a cleat on her opposite shoe and she took a digger. Amazingly, she ALMOST caught the ball anyway. Maybe velcro-closure shoes will help her. :)

The second Blugold tonight is another freshman, Nikki Bromelkamp, who hails from Zumbrota-Mazeppa High School (MN). Nikki caught game 1 vs. Pomona, and played right field in game 2 vs. Denison and was 5-7 for the day from the plate. No funny stories about "Bromel" tonight, but will keep you posted if anything should happen....

Our final featured Blugold tonight is senior, Bri Sturm, also from Zumbrota-Mazeppa HS. Bri pitched vs. Denison today, and although she gave up 5 runs, she pitched very well, which is something we really wanted to see from her. Bri has the ability to be extremely effective for us, and it was good to see her pitches working well, hitting her spots, and getting batters to pop up quite a bit.

It's an early morning tomorrow, with 6:00 breakfast, 6:30 departure, and games at 8 and 10. We'll get ourselves mentally on track by reminding each other that it's really 2 hours later at home, so it's not that big a deal. Not sure if I'll have a chance to post tomorrow, but our SID, Kevin Meinholz, does a great job of getting our scores posted quickly, so we'll be sure to phone the scores in after we play.

Hoping to finish the week strong!

Coach Huntington

Tucson Games – Day 4

Hello Blugold Fans!

We are about to head to the field for Day 5, so I thought I should write a quick update on Day 4.

Yesterday's opponents were Schreiner University from Texas and Augsburg College from Minnesota. We were able to come through the day with two victories - 8-2 and 11-2, respectively.

From yesterday's games I'd like to feature freshman pitcher, Ashley Meinen, from Chippewa Falls McDonnel High School. Ashley pitched 4 innings of shut-out ball against Augsburg, to earn her 2nd collegiate victory. (She had earned her first win vs. Lakeland on Monday) Ashley is doing a good job of hitting her spots and making her pitches work. I remind her to execute her pitches, and as long as she focuses on that, she does well. She also smiles a lot in the circle, which is fun to see. When I see that smile I know she's relaxed and having fun. Ashley has learned from practice that she can't afford to make mistakes as a pitcher - at this level, mistakes get hit hard - she is adjusting well to the college game.

Today's games are against Pomona-Pitzer, a team from California, and Denison, from Ohio. It's going to be a hot one today, as we play at 1:30 and 3:30, local time - high today expected to be near 90 (but it's dry heat) :). We've been pushing the fluids hard and the players have respected the sun and heat by staying hydrated.

We need to come out with a lot of energy again today - the team understands how important it is to play the way "we" play, so they're doing a very good job of bringing lots of energy to the game.

I've seen lots of positives this week - we have plenty to work on, but we have a bunch of freshmen who have earned a lot of playing time this week, and this experience is giving them more confidence. Last night we started a freshman battery, and 3 freshmen in the infield.

Keep the warm Wisconsin weather comin'!

Coach Huntington

Monday, March 16, 2009

Tucson Games – Day 3

Good Evening Blugold Fans!

We're halfway done with our spring trip, and currently sit at 5-1. We were able to win two more games today. Game one vs. Wesleyan (CT) ended with a 5-2 score, and game two vs. Lakeland ended at 5-1.

I like the progress I'm seeing in our team. We have a lot of players making contributions and we are finding that balanced offensive lineup that I had hoped for. We have a combination of speed and power that I'm very happy with at this point. I think we're getting better as the week is going along. I am also pleased with the energy we continue to have.

Although I feel that our entire team is contributing this week, I want to feature Aleisha Harper tonight. Aleisha is playing 2B and 3B for us and has been somewhat of a surprise. I knew she was talented in high school, but I didn't expect her to adjust to the college game as well as she has as quickly as she has. She has made an immediate impact and is gaining a lot of confidence this week. Aleisha is from Eau Claire North High School and I'm REALLY happy that she is now wearing a Blugold uniform. I'll try to feature a different player in future posts so you can get some more insight into our team.

We've been able to use all of our pitchers up to this point as well, and although we have plenty of room for improvement in the circle, we are getting the job done right now. We will continue to work hard - we need to cut down on the walks and the runs that we're giving up, but fortunately our offense has helped out our pitchers.

After the games today, we came back to the hotel and the players got to enjoy a little downtime by the pool, and we shared a lot of good laughs while we relaxed. We are off tomorrow, so we're going to have a chance to get some much-needed rest. It's great being outside in the sun and warmth, but it does take a lot out of us, so this chance to catch our breath and recharge is coming at a great time.

Before I sign off, I just want to shout out to Dave Ross, who wanted to make sure that I got a hard time for not posting more regularly! Dave, I'm so tired that I can hardly read the screen I'm typing on, but I don't want to let you down! :)

Also want to thank the Blugold alumnae who read the posts - know that I will make every effort to post regularly so I can keep you up to date! And please get your RSVP to Robin ASAP so you can be a VIP the first weekend in April! LOL!!! Sorry, couldn't resist.......

Thanks for reading.......keep 'em high and tight!

Coach Huntington

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Tucson Games – Day 2

Greetings Faithful Blugold Fans!

Tonight I write with excitement as we won two games today! We were challenged, as we spotted our opponents early runs in both games, but our offense was amazing today. Every single Blugold player saw the field today in one role or another.

Game one started out a little rough, as walks plagued us early. We got down, but we were never out as our offense was alive throughout and we were able to outscore Edgewood 5-3. We got down very early against Marian as well. The Marian hitters jumped on our pitching and attacked early in the count. I don't think we pitched poorly, their hitters just did a very good job. We were down 6-0 before we came back with a 7-run inning of our own, which was sparked by one of our freshmen, Jenny Janke, who played 1st base in that game. We ended up winning the game 11-6. Our young players came through big in the second game.

Today was much better for our team from an intensity and energy standpoint. We came with enthusiasm from the first pitch, and I think our players saw what that can do for us. Despite getting down early in each game, our energy carried us until we were able to break through with some runs of our own.

I am proud of how our players are responding, also, to the frequent changes in our lineup. Everyone seems to be understanding what we're trying to do early in the season and they are supporting each other very well. We have the makings of another very cohesive team, and I like what I see.

Two more tomorrow before we have an off day - we'll play Wesleyan (CT) in a 9 a.m. (AZ time) game, then Lakeland, another in-region opponent, at 11 a.m. (AZ time). We're hoping to have the opportunity to go watch the University of Arizona practice tomorrow afternoon before having about 48 hours off to get some much-needed rest and rehydration. Several of our players have plans for Tuesday with their families - headed off to who-knows-where for some sightseeing, and, if I know this team, I'm sure some shopping will be involved.

Thanks for reading.......

Coach Huntington

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Ups and Downs

Hello Blugold Fans!

We rebounded from a disappointing 2-1 loss vs. LaVerne today and defeated a scrappy Central team 7-2. Today was a tale of two different Blugold personalities on the field.

In game one, Bri Sturm pitched a great game to start her senior season, but defensive miscues and a lack of aggressive offense did us in. I make no excuses for our team. We didn't execute on defense or offense. Fundamental mistakes cost us. I was disappointed in our hitters as we did not go on the attack. We acted like we were waiting for someone to give us something. We did not play at a high level and did not have the intensity that I hope for on a daily basis. Our enthusiasm during warm ups was good - we wanted to play badly; but once the game started, we allowed our opponent to dictate the pace and the intensity.

Game two was a completely different story. We had another very good pitching performance - this time by Jenny Ross. And we decided to play aggressively on offense, attacking the ball and trying to make something happen. We started with 3 freshmen in the infield (Jenny Janke, Aleisha Harper, and Jess Freagon) and they did a great job. Ashley Meinen came on in relief for "J-Ro" and gave up one run in 2 innings of work - getting the first game jitters out of the way.

Regrettably, I wish we could have game one back to play again. But there's nothing we can do about it now. My hope is that the team learned from it.

Two more games tomorrow - 11 a.m. (AZ time) vs. Edgewood College and 1:30 p.m. vs. Marian College. Both games are in-region games for us, so we need these games, but as far as I'm concerned, they're all big games.

Thanks for reading.

Coach Huntington

Game On!

Greetings Blugold Fans!

Well, here it is......finally.......opening day! Since my last post the team has continued to work on preparation for the coming season, both on and off the field (gym floor). :) We might not be perfect today, but we're prepared. If our enthusiasm is any indication, we're going to have a good day today.

We arrived in Tucson on Thursday night, or, well, Friday morning - getting into our hotel rooms about 3 a.m. Arizona time, which was 5 a.m. at home. Despite the lack of sleep, Friday was a great day! Coach Baker and I got a chance to scout our Day 1 opponents, as well as another team that we'll be playing this week. We took the team to Golf Links Park for a GREAT practice - they are fired up and ready to go. Getting on the dirt on an actual softball field was awesome, and the players responded well. Then we had a great meal at the Pinnacle Peak Steakhouse (thanks Dayle!), and an early night to bed after a brief team meeting.

This morning Coach Baker and I got in a good workout, a good breakfast, we'll have pregame meal at 11:30 (AZ time), then it's off to the park to face the University of LaVerne in our first game, and Central College in game 2. Both teams will challenge us immediately, as LaVerne has already played 20 games, and Central played 2 yesterday. We will learn a lot today, and that will make us better.

It seems like just yesterday we were walking off the field in Salem, VA, after our National Championship - but at the same time, it feels like forever.

It's game day - No excuses, No regrets.

As always, life is a series of left turns - see you around the corner.......


Coach Huntington

Monday, February 9, 2009

Softball season – week 3

Well, we're into Week 3 already - hard to believe how quickly time has gone. Our hitting mechanics continue to improve, and we've had a lot of enthusiasm on defense. The coaching staff has done a great job so far with keeping drills fresh and adding new things every day. It's important for us to challenge the players every day, and if we just continue to do the same things day after day, we're not creating those challenges. Sometimes the players get frustrated because we'll add things that they have to work at - they can't do it perfectly the first time they try, but we emphasize that is part of the plan - the challenge.

We made the trip to McFarland this past weekend and, as always, had a good turnout. We all agree that this is by far the WARMEST it's EVER been on a weekend we've gone to McFarland. Last year was in the neighborhood of 20-30 below zero, so we'd have to warm up the vans for a long time before anyone would get in. It was a very pleasant weekend and the participants did a great job with their focus, intensity, and effort. Our sophomores and freshmen did a great job with their instruction as well, and they enjoyed a little dip in the pool at the hotel after a long day in the gym on Saturday! :)

We've had only one day of wearing the "yellow" wristbands so far in the first 2+ weeks of practice. I got the idea from Donna Newberry, the head softball coach at Muskingum College, who was just inducted into the National Fastpitch Coaches Association Hall of Fame in December - but we have sets of green, yellow, and red wristbands and we use a "stoplight" analogy with our practices. Having a "green" practice means that the intensity was good, the effort was good, the execution was good - good attitudes, everyone taking responsibility for their mistakes, recovering quickly from a mistake, get the idea. A "yellow" practice is one where things are kind of "iffy" - we didn't have good focus and intensity the entire time, maybe we had the "bottom lip syndrome", and things just didn't feel quite right. A "red" practice is one where everything goes poorly - this would be the kind of practice that might actually cause me to just send everyone home early because they weren't getting anything accomplished the way we're supposed to. Our goal is to never have a "red" practice, and keep the "yellows" to a minimum. So whatever the captains decide, the team wears that color wristband the following day. I found it interesting that the one day that we've worn the "yellow" wristbands, you could almost feel shame in the players that day - like they were embarrassed that they had to wear yellow. It was a subtle reminder of what they had done the previous day, and they didn't want to repeat it. This has been a very valuable tool for us, and my appreciation goes out to Coach Newberry for such a great idea!

Go "Green!" :)

Coach Huntington

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Softball season – week 2

After 7 days of practice I have to say that I'm pleased with our progress. We have gotten a little better each day, and I look forward to our continued improvement. We are looking forward to the challenge of our opening games in Tucson, AZ, in approximately 6 weeks. We received the #2 ranking in the NFCA preseason poll, but we're not concerned about where we start - we're more concerned about where we finish, and the journey along the way.

I'm proud of and impressed by the growth I've seen in our team already after just 7 days. We are getting good leadership all the way around, and each player seems to be understanding that every role is important and if they don't take care of their individual responsibilities, the entire team suffers. Our focus in practice has been very good; it's easy to see that each player is driven to improve.

We will travel to McFarland High School this weekend to do a clinic on Saturday and Sunday; our freshmen and sophomores typically go with the coaching staff to do this clinic. It's a good opportunity for them to teach and learn by teaching, as well as spend some time bonding with their teammates and coaches, and learn to live with each other in hotel rooms, as we'll be doing during the season. We always have a great turnout in McFarland, and we're hoping this year will be no different.

Think spring!

Coach Huntington

Monday, January 26, 2009

The 2009 Season Begins!

Whew! The 2009 season is here! We had our first day of practice today and it went very well. I found it fairly easy to create excitement today considering the accomplishments of last year's team. Today we took care of a lot of "housekeeping" stuff - checking out practice gear, lockers, going over practice expectations, etc., but we also did a few skills and the focus was very good and we got better today. I'm always looking for 1% improvement each day - if each player can improve just 1% each day, we're on our way to where we want to be.

Today we talked about last spring - as coaches, we decided (with some advice from a University of Michigan asst. coach) that we needed to talk about the accomplishments of last year - not live them, but remember them. We defined success today and used John Wooden to help us do it. As a group we defined success as the peace of mind that comes with knowing that you did the very best you could to become the best that you are capable of becoming. We talked about one of the cornerstones of our program - working the process and letting the end result take care of itself.

Piece by piece we will work on putting the puzzle back together this year - different players, a couple different coaches, a different floor in our gym, but the same philosophies and values that have gotten us to this point. We're not going to try to defend our title this year - we're just going to try to win another one.

Hit 'em hard, run 60 feet, and turn left!

Coach Huntington

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Making History

I excited and proud to be able to witness such an historical event today - the Inauguration of the first African American President of the United States of America. I will be watching coverage on television - I'm not lucky enough to actually BE there, but what an inspiring and emotional moment in the history of our nation. I hope all Americans can appreciate what is taking place today regardless of political party - I have one word to describe it, although we still have so far to go - but that word is PROGRESS.

Carpe' diem!

Coach Huntington

Monday, January 12, 2009

Facebook, revisited

I just joined the Group, Blugold Softball Alumni, on Facebook. WOW! There are a bunch of former players in the group already! It's exciting to see so many! I'm hoping this is going to be a real key for us to keep in touch with alumnae in the future. Thanks go out to Jill Janke, one of my student coaches, for getting the group up and running and to Mallory McKinney, another student coach, for adding some photos. I'd love to see more of that!

The weather this week is certainly NOT conducive to softball, as it will be -10 for a HIGH later this week! BRRRRRR!!!!! is all I can say! There are better days ahead!

Only 13 days 'til practice starts!

Coach Huntington

Thursday, January 8, 2009


Forgot to mention in last night's post that I now have a Facebook account. It's a little intimidating, but I'm using it for staying in touch with UWEC alumnae, as well as finding my old classmates from my high school and Buena Vista. It's amazing how many people I've reconnected with in less than a week! I'm still a little hesitant with it, but used the "right" way, I think it's an amazing use of technology!

Hits + runs = victory!

Coach Huntington

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Belated Happy Holidays!

Hard to believe that the 2008-09 Holiday season has already come and gone! I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and Happy New Year! It was a fun Christmas, as my nephews are now 7 (Cauy) and 5 (Tyler). The "big gift" this year was Nintendo Wii. I received the Rock Band World Tour for the Wii and it was played a lot right out of the box. My nephews became very skilled quickly as they played the Beginner level where all they had to do was either strum the guitar or bang on the drums - colors don't matter in Beginner mode - PERFECT for the young ones! My brother's family is very musically gifted, and it was HILARIOUS to watch Tyler on the drums, as he paid no attention to the bars on the TV but still managed to follow the beat. He's going to be a rock star, I'm sure of it! We enjoyed Christmas day at my parents' house here in Eau Claire and finished it off with the movie Wall-E, which I had never heard of before Christmas Day, but my nephews were experts on it already! It was an interesting, peculiar movie and although I liked it, I did manage to fall asleep with about 15 minutes left. :) It's tough keeping up with 2 nephews!

We are now working diligently on our annual planning for the season. We are in our Winterim right now at the University, so it's prime preparation time for spring. Needless to say, we are extremely excited about the season and we are looking forward to the challenges ahead. AND we are looking forward to less back and leg pain due to our new wood floor in the McPhee Center!!! The old tartan stuff was a killer after a couple hours of practice.

We are making a lot of progress in our planning for our 25th Anniversary alumni event in April. We are looking forward to making this a great alumni event, and something for everyone to remember. The social/dinner is going to be held at the Quality Inn on Clairemont Ave. across from Sacred Heart Hospital, and they will have a block of rooms for alumni as well, at a great rate of $49.95 per night. We will be getting RSVP cards out by mid-February, so if you are an alum, look for it in the mail. We'll have something online as well, so in case we don't have your current address, you can still find the information.

Go Blugolds!

Coach Huntington