Story by Casey Baumberger
Drake University’s athletic teams require a lot of dedication from their athletes as well as the coaching staff. They spend many hours a week working out, training, competing and traveling. Often times, the coaching staff is unable to handle it on their own.
That is where volunteer coaches come into play. Tina DeAngelo and Kasey Griffith both take time out of their schedules to help coach the softball team.
“My specialty is pitching. I work with the pitchers. I’ll throw balls for the girls during regular practice and hitting sessions,” DeAngelo said.
“My responsibilities differ a little from Tina’s. During practice, I work a lot with the infielders, and I’ll sometimes fill in for shortstop. I help a lot with base running, too,” Griffith said.
Their responsibilities do not end when practice ends, especially for volunteer women’s soccer coach Jen Ogren.
“I’m in charge of editing film, working with the goalies, helping out with camps that the girls go to, getting people registered, paperwork, and I help out with the logistics when we travel,” Ogren said.
Whether they coach soccer or softball, these women have a passion for their sport.
“I’ve been playing since middle school, and I absolutely love coaching. My favorite part of the whole coaching experience is forming relationships with the girls on the team and being able to help guide them in their softball careers as well as life in general,” DeAngelo said.
“Personally, I volunteer because I’m in love with the sport. It takes a special person to appreciate all the hard work that it takes to be good at soccer, and all the girls on the team are amazing people. I love being involved with such an awesome sport and such awesome girls,” Ogren said.
Even though DeAngelo, Ogren and Griffith all love their sports, they have lives and responsibilities outside the team.
“For me, it can be difficult to manage my time because I have a family and children. My husband is very supportive, though. He’ll pick up the kids, make dinner and do chores whenever I am away with the team. The only way my hectic life works is through the help and support of my family,” DeAngelo said.
For Griffith, conflicts sometimes arise between her job and coaching.
“I have a full-time job, so I can only travel with the team every other time. That’s kind of disappointing, but I like my job, too. I just wish I had more time to do all the things I want to do in a day,” Griffith said.
Despite being busy, volunteer coaches are involved in the lives of their athletes.
“Tina and Kasey are awesome. They dedicate so much time to helping us with our pitching and hitting as well as study or life issues in general. It’s really easy to relate to Tina and Casey. They have a closer relationship with the team than the head coaches do,” said Mariah McKinnon, a sophomore pitcher on the softball team.
“I specifically remember a time during the season when I needed some extra help with my shooting, and Jen willingly took time out of her day help me. She was always willing to work with anyone who wanted some extra practice,” said Brittany Schuling, a senior on the women’s soccer team. “Jen is an awesome communicator. She really relates to the players, and she’s able to joke with us during practice and still make sure that we get our drills done.”
“Without the volunteer coaches, I think it would be a lot harder for the head coaches to manage the team, and their players wouldn’t as easily reach their full potential because the assistant coaches are able to give so much one-on-one time with the players,” McKinnon said. “They are an essential part of the team.”