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Cook County Softball: Rookie Coaching Duo Cultivate Young Team’s Talent

When Taryn Manthey took on becoming an assistant coach for the Cook County girls soft­ball team, she quickly realized there was more to it than she originally thought.

“It was definitely a learning experience. I thought it would be easier, now I see the real side of coaching,” she said. “It seems you are just there to guide the girls to win a game but there’s really more to it.”

This was Taryn’s first year as assistant coach and Sta­cy Spry’s first as head coach. They have played soft-pitch softball together in a Grand Portage women’s summer league for a few years. Taryn attended a basketball game over the winter and the girls varsity basketball coach, Levi Libra, mentioned that Stacy had signed up for head coach this season. He encouraged her to apply for the assistant coach position.

Despite the learning curve, Taryn really enjoyed coaching, and plans to coach again next year. “I really like the group of girls that we coached. They’re spunky. They’re self-motivat­ed and very efficient,” she said.

It is a young team. They started with twenty players, but lost a couple during the season, one due to injury. Prac­tices are combined with junior high, grades 6th through 12th together on the field. Junior high games include 6th-8th. Varsity is comprised of 8th through 12th with a couple 7th graders in the mix.

Even with the age differ­ences, all the players get along. “Everybody treated each oth­er equally and everyone was kind. Everyone encouraged everyone at practice and at games,” reported Taryn.

There were only two seniors on the team, Amery Oberg and Allie Duclos, and they both played big roles this season. “Whenever we end practice, we always get in a huddle and discuss what we need to do for our next game,” said Taryn. “Amery and Allie are always vocal about what to do. They’re really cool.”

Allie leaves the position of catcher open and big spikes to fill. Taryn relayed that in Al­lie’s position, she can really see everything happening on the field. She was always able to provide valuable feedback to the rest of the team.

Two girls have shown in­terest in the position, Sophia Christianson and JennaRosa Ming. JennaRosa happens to be one of Stacy’s nieces who played on the junior high team this season.

The Vikings also have a need to focus on uptraining some pitchers. Kallie Anderson has served as a pitcher and is very seasoned in her role. However, when she was injured in a game in Silver Bay, there wasn’t a backup. Grete Youngdahl, the team’s shortstop, stepped up to the mound.

“She did a great job,” report­ed Taryn. “She never pitched before, and I think she could go a long way in her career as a pitcher. She has great form.”

The coach reached out to Carly Puch, a former pitcher in Cook County, who stopped by practices to share tips and tricks she learned from her years playing and a pitch­ing camp she had attended in high school. The girls found her guidance to be helpful and really want her to continue at­tending practices now and then to work with them.

When I asked Taryn about the highlights of the season, she spoke of some of the high scoring games this year. “They were super high energy,” she said. “Our girls were at 100 during the entire game, ener­gy-wise, being positive and being team players. Those are good examples of what we strive to be at other games.”

She expects they will see more success and growth in the future. “They have a lot of po­tential. I know we didn’t have the best season record-wise, but we’re new coaches, it’s a young team,” Taryn said. “We can go a long way if we real­ly get ourselves together at the beginning of the next season.”

In addition to the coaches’ guidance, both Rob Hackett and Drew Olson, who have daughters on the team, have been volunteering their time to assist. Rob helps with the books and calculates team stats. Drew has been helpful by teaching some fundamentals, such as how to swing a bat and batting stances. “It’s nice of them to be there as extra bod­ies, too, to help with drills,” said Taryn.

Both coaches are excited to continue coaching. “We’re looking forward to next sea­son and planning on having fun and winning more games,” said Taryn.

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