Coley Ries reflects on professional softball career
ST. PETER, Minn. (KEYC) — From starring on the diamond at Mankato East to winning a national title at Minnesota State Mankato and going on to play professionally, Coley Ries is closing the book on an impressive playing career for the time being.
“It was a terribly hard decision. I knew at some point it would come, but unfortunately with women’s professional sports, there is a limited opportunity. The fact I got four years of opportunity I did, I just need to remember that and be grateful for it,” said Ries.
Ries played with some of the best softball players in the world during her time in the National Pro Fastpitch League. The right-hander first started in 2017 with the Texas Charge after winning the NCAA Division II National Championship with the Minnesota State Mavericks.
The 2018 season saw her career head to Chicago with the Bandits, and 2019 brought the pitcher’s playing career back to the Mankato area after helping bring an NPF team to southern Minnesota in the Aussie Peppers.
“I definitely thought my last time playing in Mankato was first with the Mavericks, then with Chicago, then to be home for a whole season was unbelievable. I mean, the impact that had on the Mankato Peppers organization and youth organizations all across the state was unbelievable to see,” said Ries.
The NPF canceled the 2020 campaign due to COVID-19, but Ries didn’t take the year off. Instead, she suited up for Athletes Unlimited, which started a professional softball league during the pandemic this past fall.
Ries also started going to work as a first-year head coach of the Gustavus Adolphus College softball team during the Athletes Unlimited inaugural season, and she’s focused on building a successful program with the Gusties after going .500 in year one.
While coaching will keep Ries busy for years to come, the star isn’t ruling out a return to the diamond as a player in the future.
“It’s definitely hard to put it down. I still have this dream out there that something else might come available. You never know, I’ve seen people unretire before. I’m not counting anything out at this point,” said Ries.
Either way, Ries is an inspiration for players everywhere, proving anything is possible.
“No matter where you grow up, good things can happen. As long as you work hard and truly just loving the game enough and remembering why you’re playing. Small town Mankato, you can do whatever you put your mind to. It was a dream I didn’t want to put out there, but why not? Put that out there, put out whatever you want to do, you never know what will happen,” Ries added.
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