Softball | 1/8/2022 9:35:00 AM
MINNEAPOLIS – It was a summer of new experiences for Golden Gophers infielder Sydney Strelow as she found a spot in the dugout and looked at the game of softball from a different perspective. After spending two years as an assistant coach with BATS Academy Fastpitch, she decided it was time to step into the new position and lead the 16U team as its head coach.
It was a successful season on the diamond as Strelow and her team capped the summer winning a 2022 USA Elite World Fastpitch Championship in Kansas City. Having played her own travel ball career with BATS Academy, based out of the Milwaukee, Wis., Area, she saw the opportunity as the perfect fit of giving back, while also beginning her own coaching journey.
“I decided to coach because I wanted to continue being around softball in the summer,” Strelow said. “I’ve known travel ball since I was six, so the schedule for me was the same, just a different outlook. I have a passion to coach, and I’m thinking of coaching in the future at the collegiate level, so I figured this was the best path to go and see if I like it, and I do. I love it! I wanted to give them the experience I had playing travel ball and I enjoy teaching the girls everything I know. “
Having played softball at the club, high school and collegiate levels, the Kenosha, Wis., Native has picked up a lot of coaching mentors over her years. Now that she is in a similar role, she knows how important it is to utilize those resources and improve as a coach herself.
“I rely on all those people that coached me and the knowledge that they can still give me. I talk to my dad and I also talk to my high school coach (John Ruffolo) a lot. He is a wizard when it comes to making lineups and finding different ways to win. I also talk with Coach Ritter and Coach Wynn when I have questions or am in a tough spot and they always help. Having good coaches in the past has taught me a lot of things and helped me figure out who I want to be as a coach. “
Strelow, heading into her senior season, has always been known for her passion on the field and animated expressions with the Gophers as she wears her emotions on her sleeve. For anyone that thinks this would be any different as a coach, they are sorely mistaken, even though it’s taken a great deal of self-awareness to get there and is still a work in progress.
“I have to be a little more professional at times, but I think my passion rubs off on the players a lot. That helps us get the energy going in the dugout. I always get hyped, but sometimes I must watch myself and stay mature in the coach role. “
While being in charge might frighten some, she has relished having control and going through the decision-making process. The leadership aspect of coaching is another one of the most important parts for Strelow.
“I’ve embraced this role as a head coach and enjoy being able to make connections with the girls as they are the ones that keep me going. I like being someone they can look to, whether that’s on the field or off. Being the one everyone turns to and getting to call the shots is my favorite part of being a head coach. “
In addition to helping her future career plans of being a coach, there will be more immediate effects from this summer as Strelow continues training for the 2023 season with Minnesota.
“For me, it’s always been a mental game when I’m on the field. I tend to overthink and put a lot of pressure on myself. Going into my season, it opens my eyes to being more relaxed and try to stay in the moment. Understanding where my girls come from helps remind me that it’s a game and to have fun and enjoy the moment. “
Strelow now has a fresh perspective on the game as she prepares for her fourth season with the Maroon & Gold as the team looks to make its 10th-consecutive appearance at an NCAA Regional.