New softball coach and team look to fresh leadership strategies for season

Feb. 8, 2016

Audrey Jensen
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On Feb. 5, the softball team started their three-month season with their first game against the University of Nebraska-Kearney in Las Vegas.

With a new head coach, the team hopes to use communication and a new approach to leadership going into the spring.

In addition to lifting weights and scrimmages, first-year head coach Ricki Rothbauer spent the offseason getting to know the team members.

“Year one gives you unique challenges, you’re trying to figure out how freshmen and newcomers work in a team. It takes a few months to challenge kids and figure out how they react when they run into adversity,” Rothbauer said.

“It’s learning who needs a push and who needs more guidance. You find kids who don’t deal with failure well because it doesn’t happen often. You have to learn those personalities and what makes those kids tick.”

Junior infielder Nikki Hoffman said Rothbauer spent a lot of time in the offseason getting to know each player one-on-one.

“She really focused on preseason getting to know us, wanting to break down our team chemistry, see what has gone wrong in the past. She wants to help pull us together,” said Hoffman.

“Even our practices are much quicker, to the point. We get a lot of stuff done in two hours.”

Instead of two traditional team captains, Rothbauer started a group leadership project where nine members of the team will meet once a week. Rothbauer considers these players an extension of the coaching staff.

“We’re working as a group on a leadership project to help our team leaders know what direction to go for when conflict arrives,” she said.

“This semester is more about execution, who’s going to execute plays and earn more playing time.”

Senior Dani Fonseca said that instead of the pressure being on one girl to step up, it gives nine girls the chance to put themselves out there.

“(Rothbauer) is all about it, everything we do is as a team unit, infielders, outfielders, she encourages people to work together,” said Fonseca.

“I think it will be a good thing because it’s based on how they communicate with one another. When you have a team it’s not always the problem that’s the problem,” said Rothbauer.

“We’re helping them reframe situations so they can respond more positively and productively within the team.”

Hoffman said it will help to have nine girls working with the whole team.

“It will be great because there’s not two people to be pressured or to be hated for what they’re saying, it’s spread across nine people, they’ll help out with their own section, encourage their own section.”

“It’s a good positive influence, everyone will pick up their own leadership role,” Hoffman said.

UCCS’ first home games will be on Feb. 27 at noon and 2 p.m. against Fort Lewis on the Mountain Lion Field.