The Jamestown Eagles high school softball team will have a new face at the helm for the upcoming season, as Tessia Balke was named the new head coach.
While this will be the first time coaching at the high school level for Balke, it is not her first time coaching softball. Balke is from Cole Camp and went on to State Fair Community College after graduating high school, where she also played softball. Balke was the head coach for the seventh and eighth grade softball team for Cole Camp for two years. Balke also spent time as an assistant coach for the Xtreme, a travel softball team. Balke was also on the board for Cole Camp's recreational sports program and was in charge of softball this past year.
When it comes to coaching softball. Balke said she enjoys being around the game.
"For as long as I can remember, I have been on the dirt," Balke said. "Even being 22 years old, I play slow pitch softball all the time. Since I am a softball player, I have always had that love to be on the field. Being a coach, I can share my love for the game with my players, as well as teach them to love and respect the sport."
The upcoming year will be the first year that Balke will be in Jamestown. Leaving her hometown is one of the reason that Balke said she decided to come to Jamestown.
"I always loved the thought of getting out of my hometown and wanted to end up in the Boonville area," Balke said. "Teaching and coaching at Jamestown gives me that small town feeling of being in Cole Camp without actually being there."
For the upcoming season, Balke said she is going to have the team focus on fundamentals and mastering the mental aspect of softball.
"Softball is a mental game. Mastering those fundamentals and knowing what to do before the ball is hit will be very important, both physically and mentally," Balke said.
As the season moves along, Balke said she hopes to see her players form a love and respect for the game during the limited time they have with the team.
"For one day, they will not be able to lace up their cleats and run onto the field anymore," Balke said. "I learned a lot of life lessons from my high school softball coach, like how to be a leader, how to adapt to your surroundings, and be resilient, and I hope to do the same for my girls."
Effort level is going to be a big part of the team's practices with Balke as coach, she said.
"Our practices will be structured. My biggest pet peeve is a lack of effort," Balke said. "When you take a leadoff, you take off like you are stealing every time; when you are walked, you sprint to first base with 100 percent effort. As long as my girls give me that at all times, they will run smoothly."
Balke said learning lessons, both about the game and about life, is one key goal she has for the team.
"The goals I have for my team include learning lessons, life lessons that will get them through when they are adults," Balke said. "Goals that include being resilient and having confidence within oneself. I want to create an environment within my team that other teams wish they could be a part of."