ST. PETER, Minn. (KEYC) — Joining me now is Gustavus softball Head Coach Coley Ries, who went from National Pro Fastpitch to Athletes Unlimited after the NPF season was canceled due to COVID-19.
Now she is transitioning to her first year as the head softball coach at Gustavus.
Rob Clark: How is that transition going with all of the circumstances right now?
Coley Ries: ”Yeah, it’s definitely a crazy time to start a new job crazy time for everybody in athletics. Pretty much anything around the world is dealing with some kind of change. It’s just trying to roll with the punches and Gustavus and the other employees have been so incredibly welcoming and supportive, and I have people coming to my office multiple times a week just checking in making sure I’m doing okay understanding what’s going on, and I’ve just felt really supported and so that’s definitely helped.”
RC: We talked about this before, athletes kind of dealing with the starts and stops right now, just how are you approaching this as a coach just to keep everybody engaged and ready for a spring season that we will hopefully see here in 2021?
CR: ”Well, the biggest thing I mean, aside from athletically, just keeping them together as a unit and letting them feel a little bit of that like team chemistry and being able to enjoy each other. I mean that’s what being part of a team is about is being able to get to know each other and do those things together and with that not being able to happen in person, we’re trying to do a lot of Zoom things and it’s not quite as fun but being able to still get together and give them something to look forward to softball wise each week has been a focus and as far as practice when we were able to get a little bit of small group stuff and just kind of implement what I teach and also get to know how they play. This spring will build off of that.”
RC: As far as those small group practices went, just what are your first impressions of this team? And what do you think will be the identity of the group in 2021?
CR: ”I think we have a really good core group. And I think some of our newcomers are going to be really, really impactful right away. I think that was exciting for me to see some of the first years have had the ability to break the line-up immediately, and I think that’s always nice to see when you have some young ones with some promise, you know for the next couple of years. You are hopefully going to be in a good spot. So I’m excited to see it all come together. It’s a little hard to tell right now when you weren’t able to practice as a full team and see the unit as a whole. I think our identity is going to be scrappy. I think we’re a team that historically has had a lot of success and trying to help them understand why they have that target on their back and just playing freely and openly and enjoying what we’re doing is really being grateful for the opportunity to play. I think a lot of teams are going to have that feeling of having the game taken away for so long. It’s just going to be exciting to get back out there. So I think this is a group that’s just going to really enjoy it and you’re going to tell that they have a lot of fun doing it.”
RC: We all know who Coley Ries is as a player. How would you describe Coley Ries as a coach?
CR: ”I think it’s similar to if you watch my personality pitching, it never gets too high and never gets too low. I think that’s also how I coach. I’m a super competitive person deep down, but my coaching style tends to be a little bit more laid back than I think I would have ever imagined. I think I just know that the players are going to look to you to see how you’re responding to different situations. And if you’re able to stay calm through, it really helps them, so I think bringing a calm presence, but bringing a motivational presence is really what I try to hone in on.”