As soon as Bob Sullivan was hired as head coach of the Central Lakes College Raiders softball team he knew who he wanted to fill out his staff.
Sullivan wasted little time and talked to Heidi Rogge and Heather Jacobson, both former Raider players. Rogge played on the 2000 and 2001 national tournament teams while Jacobson started at first base for the 2002 and 2003 state champion teams.
"I knew from the day I got the job these were the people I wanted with me," said Sullivan. "The No. 1 reason was the effort they put into the game when they played and the way they conduct themselves. They also make me look better."
Rogge and Jacobson are reasons why the Raiders finished 17-9 in the regular season, 16-8 in North Division play.
Both assistant coaches will have to be on their games as CLC hosts the Minnesota Community College Conference state tournament this Saturday and Sunday in Brainerd. The Raiders face the Bethany Lutheran Vikings Noon Saturday at Mills Field.
It took little convincing from Sullivan to get Rogge and Jacobson on board as the two ached to be a part of the game again.
"I just wanted to be around the softball environment," said Jacobson. "I've known Bob since I was a little kid and he knows I love the game and that it's a passion of mine. It's hard to sit on the sideline and watch the girls play. I still prefer playing over coaching."
Said Rogge: "I played under Bob for two years and since leaving CLC I kept up on the team. I also went to a few of the games and I got to know some of the players. I missed being a part of the games and that was a major reason for me to get back into it all."
MCCC state softball tournament
All Games at Memorial Park
Rochester vs. Hibbing, 10 a.m., Field 1
Central Lakes, bye
Northland vs. Ridgewater, 10 a.m., Field 3
Mesabi Range vs. Minnesota West, 10 a.m., Field 4
Rainy River vs. Rochester/Hibbing winner, noon, Field 1
Central Lakes vs. Bethany Lutheran, noon, Field 2
Itasca vs. Northland/Ridgewater winner, noon, Field 3
Fergus Falls vs. Mesabi Range/Minnesota West winner, noon, Field 4
10 a.m., Fields 1 and 2
Noon, Fields 1 and 2
2 p.m., Field 1
4 p.m., championship, Field 2
Sullivan, for one, was glad they did come back. With three coaches, it allows the Raiders to conduct more efficient practices. It also gives Sullivan a chance to focus more on the game and delegate other duties to Rogge and Jacobson.
"Having Heidi and Heather in the dugout has made my life easier," said Sullivan. "One does the book and one always coaches a base. It's better at practices because we're able to break people up, take a group and work with them. We get more accomplished with three of us."
Jacobson and Rogge have also brought the Raiders into the digital age as they keep track of stats on a palm pilot and download the stats into a computer.
The high tech stats allow the Raiders' coaching staff to see how their players are doing at the plate and to see their opponents' hitting patterns.
In bringing Rogge and Jacobson on, Sullivan was hoping a little bit of their work ethic would rub off on CLC players.
"I cannot remember if either Heather or Heidi ever missed a practice or a game when they played at CLC," Sullivan said. "Everything they earned was because of their work ethic."
Besides their work ethic, Jacobson and Rogge have a combined four years of college softball experience, which included a few pressure-packed games.
That experience could come in handy at this weekend's MCCC state tournament.
"We've gone over scenarios that happened when I played," said Rogge. "I'll bring up my past experiences but it's still about the players and not us. They're willing to listen to things that happened to us and they'll listen to the advice."
TROY GUNDERSON can be reached at email@example.com or 855-5865.
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