Coaching Changes Part 3 – Jen Walter
Spending a Practice with UMD's New Softball Coach
An early season workout for UMD Softball, and Head Coach Jen Walter is doing what she does best, teaching.
“Start rotation, then you can swing,” Walter told her player.
Teaching and Softball are passions for Walter.
“That is why I coach,” said Walter. “I’m a better one on one coach probably than I am a better team coach. As a coach, I’m a teacher.”
Walter took over the Bulldog program in July, but she is no stranger to Duluth.
“I love the city, my parents live here, it’s my home,” Walter said.
In 16 seasons at the College of Saint Scholastica, Walter’s teams won 447 games, 28 Upper Midwest Athletic Conference regular season or tournament championships, and went to the NCAA tournament five times.
“Jen’s reputation preceded her,” said UMD Athletic Director Josh Berlo. “Jen has a tremendous career in softball in Minnesota and had an impressive run at St. Scholastica.”
It’s not like Walter was looking to leave CSS, the opportunity was just too good to pass up.
“Honestly, this is probably the only job I would have taken,” said Walter. “Because of everything I had there I was in a position to move down the hill here, but it’s hard to do that because I had it pretty good. I’ve always thought about moving up to the next level, kind of wanting that maybe without really searching it out.
After only a few months together, Bulldog players couldn’t be happier with Walter’s approach to coaching.
“It’s a complete 180,” said senior Cayli Sadlier. “Jen has a completely different coaching style. She’s taught us new things, we’ve been doing different practice layouts and it’s just been in a really good transition.”
“I really love Jen,” said senior Sami Schnyder. “I personally have learned a lot from her which is been great. She came in with a great attitude.”
Walter’s one–on–one, hands on approach has been a big hit.
“It’s been kind of cool coming into my senior year and still be able to learn,” said Schnyder. “I really do like how she does run things.”
Walter is pleased to see her new players take to her style so quickly.
“The greatest thing that can happen for me as a coach is when a player gets it,” said Walter. “When you see that light bulb go off, that’s what kind of fuels me.”
While she recognizes UMD has struggled through its first seven games, Walter believes a trip to Florida, featuring ten games in six days, gives the Bulldogs a chance to grow as a team on and off the field.
“The spring trip to me is kind of a defining moment for most team,” said Walter.
“The best time to really get to know each other’s is off the field and outside of practice. And you have a lot of that in Florida and I enjoy that.”
Bulldog players are also looking forward to the trip.
“We’re going to be playing a lot of games, we’re going to be together a lot,” said Sadler. “We’re going to be able to create that chemistry more.”
“These are obviously big games, you play region teams,” said Schnyder. “It’ll be a really big trip. I’m hoping that we can leave there with a solid record and with confidence built to enter the season strong.”
Regardless of how the Bulldogs play in Florida, or once conference play starts, the program appears to be on the right track.
“I look at this as a new opportunity for me to take a program to the next level,” said Walter. “I am so grateful to have the opportunity.”
Schnyder adds, “with her teaching mechanics and how she sees the game mentally and her desire, and her passion for the game, I really think UMD Softball is in good hands.”