College Softball: Multi-sport athletes a key to Raiders' success
Postseason play has become the norm for Central Lakes College women's sports teams.
Jane Peterson's volleyball team made another trip to the national tournament last fall. Basketball coach Brian Voigt's squad made a trip to the region semifinals and softball coach Ray Austin's team played in the region championship last year.
A look at Austin's roster and you will find five players playing two sports for CLC, Kali Mammenga, Sam Schimpp, Lindsay Hendrickson, Kylie Porter and Sydney Forbord.
Mammenga, Schmipp and Hendrickson crossed over from basketball to softball, while Forbord and Porter played on the volleyball team last fall.
"Brian, Jane and I work closely together," Austin said. "If we get a kid that we are looking at and they are interested in other sports, we get phone numbers out to them and have a two pronged attack. The multi-sport kids are normally the best athletes so we want them to play other sports. Jane, Brian and I have a very open dialogue on what the parameters are for the offseason.
"We made it a point that the players who were in winter sports did not have to do conditioning with our team so it was the hitting and throwing for Lindsay, Sam, and Kali. Sam and Kali are pitchers so we tried to get them in as much as we could to start their preseason pitching workout to make sure they were ready for Florida. With them being gone a couple of days a week for games it was important to get them in and they did a good job of getting their throwing in."
Schimpp played basketball and softball at Staples-Motley High School and was recruited to CLC to play basketball.
"It was something that I wanted to do coming in," Schimpp said. "I was first recruited to play basketball and then my friend Lisa Kossan, who is also from Staples, told me that I had to play softball and she talked me into it."
Mammenga played basketball and softball at Little Falls High School. Softball was her first love and she earned All-Great River Conference honors in 2017 and 2018. Her focus was on softball as she entered college, but a conversation with Voigt changed that.
"It took a lot of convincing for me," Mammenga said. "I came here to just play softball, but then I sat down with Brian (Voigt) and I decided that I could handle both sports. I kept my credit load where I could handle it and so far it has been fine. I have learned not to procrastinate and I have made the best of it. I am happy that I made that decision because I have loved basketball my whole life."
Hendrickson, an infielder/outfielder from Menahga, was focused on basketball, but Austin used another form of motivation to get her to join the softball team.
"Ray talked with me during softball season and I was skeptical at first, then he brought up the Florida trip," she said. "I am very glad that I did it and being part of a team was something that was tough to leave behind from high school. I am glad that I was part of that here."
Motivation is a key for players being able to play two sports according to Austin.
"It really depends on the athlete," he said. "Both Kali and Sam are very motivated. Sam maybe thought coming in that she wasn't good enough to play softball, but we fixed that right away. She has been a contributing player. I was over in Staples watching Lisa (Kossan) play and Sam was also there. Lisa's dad told me that Sam was coming to CLC so I talked with her and let her know that softball was an option. I am glad to have her and Kali doing both sports."
Players also work out during the fall season which affected Forbord, a first-year player from Onamia.
"We intersect in two seasons, Austin said. "In the fall, volleyball players aren't able to do a whole lot and that is valuable outdoor time that you are missing so that was kind of hard to not have them around. But we find time to get them work and if players are motivated they find time to get to the gym."
Mammenga said playing two sports, while studying to get her degree, is helping refrain from putting things off for to long.
"Here at college, handling schoolwork isn't that bad because teachers know that you play two sports so they don't really load on all the work," Mammenga said. "But you can't procrastinate, like I tend to do sometimes, because you do have to get it done. "Every night you have four hours with practice or games that you can't skip because you love it.
Hendrickson agreed: "You do get more choice on the timing for your classes, but there is more homework to do in college.
Schimpp has already completed her AA work and is now taking business classes. With her athletic eligibility coming to an end after softball, she is looking to move on next year to another school.
"It was pretty challenging," Schimpp said of the overall process. "In high school, we did get a little more of a break between sports, but being that we did well in basketball this year and softball did start in January so we also had practice time there. It is a challenge and the classes are more challenging so it is different, but it works."