Clear Creek Amana has named former Iowa player Rachel West as its new softball coach, succeeding Hall of Famer Jim White who resigned last fall to take over at Solon.
“It’s a great opportunity for me and I couldn’t be more excited to be accepting the job,” West said. “They do have a great tradition, and that’s exciting. It’s exciting to be going into a community that loves softball and is passionate about it. It’s their world there, so you couldn’t ask for anything better than that.”
“Trying to replace a coach like Jim White is a tough thing to do,” Clear Creek Amana athletic director Kurt Ronnfeldt said. “Jim was a tremendous softball coach and has done unbelievable things here with the softball program. Rachel works in the Clear Creek Amana district, and she has a passion for softball.”
West, who has a master’s degree in recreation sports management and is in her third season as an assistant girls track coach at West High, was a softball assistant at Solon for two seasons under Ben Sorden. Sorden left to concentrate on his position as the pitching coach at Coe College.
“Rachel is an amazing person with outstanding softball knowledge,” Sorden said. “She will do a wonderful job no matter where she goes. Rachel was one of the reasons we were so successful at Solon while we were both there.”
West, 26, was an outfielder for the Hawkeyes for four seasons and graduated in 2009 before entering grad school. She is employed as a para educator at North Bend Elementary in the CCA district.
Ronnfeldt was undeterred with West’s lack of head coaching experience.
“Regardless of whether that person has had head coaching experience or not, we wanted to bring in the person that was the best fit for us,” Ronnfeldt said. “She’s worked with high school athletes (at Solon and West). … She knows what it’s like to coach at that level.”
The Clipper softball program has a rich tradition of success and the whole community was rocked by White’s resignation.
“I know expectations will be high, and I think that’s great,” she said. “My expectations are high too, so that’s nothing that scares me. I expect great things too. Having a strong foundation excites me too. From a young age the girls at Clear Creek Amana are playing softball, and I’m ready to springboard off of what they’ve already built.”
The new coach will also have to contend with serious injuries to players that occurred in the final girls basketball game of the year. All-State pitcher Maliah Fligg was lost for the season with a knee ligament tear. All-state infielder Tara Walls also suffered a knee injury and is undergoing rehabilitation at this point. West said Walls’ injury was a posterior cruciate ligament. Lexi Kinnaird was also injured in that game.
“Injuries happen; they’re no fun but it’s something you’ve got to deal with, and that’s what we’ll do,” West said. “We’ll work with what we’ve got, and the expectations aren’t going to be lowered because of circumstances.”
“You can only play the cards that are dealt to you, and Rachel will do the best that she possibly can,” Sorden said.
West said the style she implements will depend on her players’ talents.
“I’m really looking forward to getting to know my players and getting out and watching them play this weekend and start to get a feel for what I have to work with,” West said. “We’ll see. It’ll be a day-to-day thing.”
West is still finalizing her three assistants.
Interestingly enough, Ronnfeldt said there were “not a lot of applicants for the position” for whatever reason.