SPRINGFIELD — As the Effingham County softball team preps for the 2019 season, it is receiving instruction from a familiar voice. The voice, however, has more authority.
Former Lady Rebels assistant coach Jane Trzaska was promoted to head coach during a move that caught her by surprise after Johnny Coleman stepped aside after leading the team to back-to-back Region 2-AAAAAA titles. Coleman will remain with the team as an assistant.
“It was exciting and nerve-racking but I am taking everything in stride and I have accepted all the help people have given me,” Trzaska said. “The familiarity makes it easy, knowing all the girls, coaches and parents. It’s not as overwhelming because we have the support system already there.
“I could not have done it without all the parents. They’ve helped me transition. It’s always a goal to be a head coach.”
A native of Illinois and former Arizona State utility player, Trzaska bragged on the Effingham County community, saying she enjoys the small-town atmosphere and the people that have made her feel right at home.
“Our sponsors have been very supportive,” Trzaska said. “I’ve really enjoyed the outreach from the community and other people supporting us. The girls have the feeling, too, of playing with pride.”
Trzaska’s first order of business will be establishing an environment where players learn to lean on each other and grow through their mistakes.
“Right now, I am working on the culture and togetherness between the girls,” she said. “Chemistry is really important on a softball field and trusting one another plays a big role. I am hammering that everything we do, we are going all out for it. We are talking, hustling and communicating. We are trying to be the best we can be.
“I am being tough on them but they are taking it very well and I love what I’m seeing so far.”
Coleman is known for producing some of the best softball players in the area and Trzaska pointed to his ability to remain poised during critical points of games as another strong suit. The way he conducts himself on the field is something Trzaska wants to mimic as her head coaching debut gets underway.
“I have learned a lot from his demeanor,” Trzaska said. “I feel like he brings a sense of calmness that a lot of coaches don’t carry. In big situations, he’s very even keel.
“I feel like that’s important when coaching girls. When they see something, they work themselves up so I want to bring a sense of calmness to the field.”
Although their first game is still two months away, Trzaska is eager to suit up and see what her team can do this year.
“I am ready,” she said. “I am ready for the season. We’ve been talking a lot about the season. I think the girls are excited.”