The Rhinebeck High School softball team has a new head coach, but he’s not a new face.
Justin Wiesenthal was approved as the team’s coach at a school board meeting last month. He takes over for Jennifer McCracken, who was the Hawks’ head coach for two seasons.
“I’m just looking to try to build on our successes in the past,” Wiesenthal said. “I want to provide an environment for the kids, that they have a fun time, that they feel they’re learning something about the sport, because it is a great sport, and just kind of provide a competitive atmosphere.”
Wiesenthal spent the last eight seasons as the Hawks’ junior varsity coach, six of those assisting head varsity coach Steve Boucher, who is now the school’s athletic director. The coaches helped Rhinebeck to four consecutive state final four appearances, including Class C state titles in 2009 and 2010, and a Class B final in 2011.
When Boucher stepped down as head coach, Wiesenthal said he thought about pursuing the job, but said his time commitments coaching the Hawks boys varsity soccer team — he has led Rhinebeck to sectional titles the last two seasons — kept him happy as an assistant in softball.
“There was somebody else that wanted to step in,” he said. “I was happy to stay where I was.”
Boucher said McCracken stepped down “due to outside commitments,” but will serve as head coach of the district’s modified team. Henry Frischknecht will be JV head coach.
“Justin’s got a nice way with the kids,” Boucher said. “He knows how to motivate kids. We see it not only in softball but also in soccer. He’s able to get the most out of his athletes at all times. … We’re hoping for good things from him.”
Rhinebeck begins its season at home against Red Hook on April 7.