PIERZ -- The Pierz Pioneers spring coaching staff is sporting a familiar face, as well as a new face this season.
Leo Pohlkamp takes over the boys' golf program after Mark Schulte retired last year; and Mitch Becker takes over the softball team, succeeding Mary Tschida.
Pohlkamp is only the second boys' golf coach in school history as Schulte started the program 31 years ago.
Also the football coach at Pierz, Pohlkamp said the two jobs are completely different.
"It's a lot more relaxing," the 47-year-old said about his new position. "In football you look forward to the Friday nights after you had scouted your opponent. In golf you really can't do that. Mainly you just work on the players' swings and work on their course management.
"I've gone from high strung to low strung. You still want the kids to come out and play but it's a little different."
Pohlkamp is no stranger to the golf program. He was the junior high coach for the last 12 years. He's been coaching at Pierz for 21 years but he's mainly known for his 15 years as the head football coach.
Pohlkamp and his assistant, Daryl Schomer, who teaches at the St. Cloud Golf Dome and is one of the best golfers to come out of Pierz, hope to have a successful season.
"We're a young team this year," said Pohlkamp, who has no seniors on his team. "Belgrade won the conference last year and they have all their players coming back. We made a good run at it at the end of the year."
In their first and only match so far this season the Pioneers finished third behind Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa and Maple Lake. But their coach believes they will be better by the time tournament play begins.
Pohlkamp wants his players to get involved in more summer tournaments.
"You don't develop your swing during the spring," he said. "I want them to play a lot of golf during the summer. There's a lot of golf tournaments these kids can get in. We want to set our goals to do something good either this year and especially next year."
Becker was the Pierz Legion baseball team head coach and is a member of the Pierz Bulldogs of the Victory League. The 27-year-old was also the junior high baseball coach and assistant wrestling coach. Becker has experience coaching, though he's never coached girls' athletics.
"It's different and I'm still learning," said Becker. "The season has been kind of a drag so far with the weather. We've had 30 days of practice on only one game. I'm learning day to day, though."
Along with learning how to work with girls, Becker is also learning a different game. He said because of the balls' different dimensions it's a little different, but he has help with his assistant coach.
For now Becker wants to improve last year's zero win record.
"We just have to put some light on the program and show some improvement," said Becker. "We have to keep the girls positive. We're mostly juniors but they're young juniors. They haven't had a lot of background. There's talent there but they just need to put it in the right place.
"Mentally there's improvement, it's been tough to see it yet physically."
As far as how they are doing, Pierz athletic director Ray Zimney really doesn't know because of the weather. He's happy with his two new coaches, though, and the direction they are taking their programs.
"I like to have coaches that are in the building," said Zimney. "Mitch has a real good baseball background. He played college ball at Mayville State. He teaches at Pierz Trinity Elementary School so he's not in our building, but at least he's in the district. He brings a lot of enthusiasm. The only thing he's lacking is the pitching end of it. That's completely different from baseball."
Becker is getting help from his assistant, Sheryl Wesenberg, with the pitching. But Becker brings a lot of experience as far as the game is concerned.
"They didn't win a game last year so they're looking for a few wins this year," said Zimney. "They've only had one game this year and lost but they have a bunch of games left."
As far as his assessment so far, Zimney is happy with his selection and is looking for good things from his new coaches.
"I think they're both going to be fine," said Zimney. "They both bring a lot of enthusiasm and in the case of golf, Daryl is a real technician. Leo will bring the organization and the daily contact with the kids. It will be a real good situation.
"The softball team is a young squad, too. Mitch realizes they need to put more of an emphasis on their summer program. He's going to do that. Once they get that going, there's some real talent there and he'll bring that out."
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