New softball coach is ready to get going

It’s been a tough year to be the coach of a spring sport. With the weather keeping nearly everyone inside for over a month now, few coaches have been able to get their team into their natural environment to see what they are working with.
It would be a tough start to a season for any coach. But for a first-year coach, it seems especially menacing.
Yet, Mary Libbesmeier, the new head varsity softball coach, is quick to talk about the positives of being stuck inside.
Libbesmeier, an adapted physical education teacher, is in her first full year with the district after being a long-term sub the year prior. Before that she worked as a teacher and junior varsity softball coach at Buffalo High School. And before that she was at St. Cloud Tech where she taught and coached, including three years as the ninth grade coach and four as the Tech varsity softball coach.
She’s already enjoying her time in Monticello, attributing many of the positives of being inside to the “luxury” of having the big field house.
“We’ve been able to accomplish a lot of things inside,” said Libbesmeier. “I’m getting to know the players a little more on a personal level.”
Those players are learning what it’s like to play varsity softball for Monticello at the same as Libbesmeier learns how to coach Monticello softball. With nine seniors graduating from last year’s team, there are only two returning starters.
“We’re basically looking at a brand new defensive lineup,” said Libbesmeier.
But for a coach who cares greatly about defensive effort, remaking the defense is an enjoyable task.
“We’ve been able to try different positions,” she said. “I like to take pride in our team defense.”
Defense is one of Libbesmeier’s focuses as a coach. Another is fundamentals.
“I strongly emphasize proper fundamentals and technique,” said Libbesmeier, adding that her teams play what she considers typical softball style, meaning playing small ball and advancing runners.
Another item that the new coach takes pride in and puts a focus on is communication. Having open lines of communication both between players and between the coaching staff is a huge step toward success, according to Libbesmeier.
So far, she has gotten plenty of practice communicating with her fellow spring coaches, as well as Athletic Director Gary Revenig, as the coaches try to balance this hectic spring schedule.
“[The other] spring coaches have been awesome to work with,” said Libbesmeier. “And Revenig has done a great job. The entire staff has just been wonderful.”
Speaking of staff, while she is still working to find out what she has in a team, she has a staff that has some familiarity with the team, and maintains continuity.
Jeff Houselog remains on as the assistant varsity coach and Melissa Gaulrapp is still the junior varsity coach.
“It’s great to have them back,” said Libbesmeier. “It’s been a nice asset to have.”
Coaching ninth grade this year is Paula Adamski. The Magic also added a fifth coach this year, Jessica Miller, who like Libbesmeier (a four-year starter at St. Cloud State University), is a former college player.
Miller, who will help a little at all levels, has been “a great addition.”
But even with some continuity on the staff, a new roster and a new coach has Libbesmeier unsure of what to expect in her first year.
“We’ve been in one game situation so far,” said Libbesmeier, referring to an early April scrimmage. “I’m not quite sure where we really stand right now.”
Answers to that question will likely come soon. If the forecast holds, Monticello is scheduled to begin their season with a home game against Bemidji Friday at 5 p.m. That will be followed by the Magic hosting a four-team tournament Saturday morning, beginning at 11 a.m.