Varsho excited about future of UW-Platteville softball
For Hub City Times
EAU CLAIRE – For the first time as head softball coach for UW-Platteville, Marshfield’s Andie Varsho has a team that is all her own. Varsho is now in her third year as the Pioneers’ head coach. “All of them are my recruits,” Varsho said in an interview prior to an April 20 game at UW-Eau Claire. “I have 19 girls currently on the team. All of them are who I recruited and who bought into my vision and the culture of the program. It’s very healthy. I enjoy coming to practice every day knowing that I get to coach them.”
Like last year’s team, this year’s version of the Pioneers is streaky, and the records are similar as well. Through 30 games the Pioneers were 14-16, after splitting a doubleheader with nationally-ranked UW-Eau Claire on April 20. At the same time last year, Varsho’s Platteville squad was 16-14. But, knowing that this is 100 percent her team has the former Marshfield High School and Purdue University softball standout much more relaxed than her first two years at the helm.
“It’s not only made a difference in my coaching style, but it’s also made a difference in how we combat failure, and how we build the bonds between coach and player. We all cheer for each other. We’re very passionate, but we’re also very competitive, which is what I want,” she said.
As for the team Varsho has assembled, she thinks they’re about a year away from putting it all together.
“I think we have the talent this year to go far, but we’re missing a couple key areas of the game, but I think it takes time to build that. My first recruiting class were freshmen last year and now they’re sophomores. I don’t think they’re going to hit their peak until their junior year, and coming in with a strong freshman class next year, I think it’s going to be a really good combination.”
Eight of Varsho’s players are from Wisconsin, including former Wisconsin Valley Conference standouts Chaela West of Wisconsin Rapids and Rachel Plautz of D.C. Everest. Other Wisconsin players come from Oak Creek, Horicon, Paris, Fond du Lac, and Neenah.
Passion is the first thing Varsho looks for when recruiting players. “I want them to love the sport. Sometimes I feel like I love it a little bit too much. But I want them to love it because if they love it they’ll practice at it, and they will want to be in the gym and they will want to play and want to get better. Did I have good genes when I was a player? Yes. I was brought up with my dad and my mom (Gary and Kay Varsho), but if I didn’t love it, I wouldn’t have worked at it as hard as I did. I had to work at it. It did not come easy to me. I had to work at it, so that’s what I am looking at for the girls that I’m recruiting – hard work, want to be in the gym, and want to prepare – because preparation sets you up for the game.”
What was Andie’s biggest learning curve between years two and three? “My mentality as a coach has changed – just being patient and understanding that I can’t go out there and play for them. They have to do it themselves. Sometimes, my first couple years, I put so much pressure on myself and they could tell that I was stressed. Now, I just have to have patience and know that I’ve prepared them to the best of my capabilities, and now it’s in their hands. And, just staying calm and really working on my mentality as a coach I think has really changed.”
Andie is now helping her younger sister go through some of the same struggles as a young coach that she endured. Taylor Varsho is coming off of her first season as head coach of the Marshfield Tigers girls’ basketball team. “I tried to give her some tidbits of advice. But she did a great job. She has so much knowledge of basketball and it definitely shows. She’s going to turn that program around. Give her a couple years,” Andie said.
While they can’t compete together on the same field or court as they once did as players, the Varsho girls are content with competing against one another as head coaches in their respective programs. But Andie says it’s about much more than that. “We both love sports, but it wouldn’t satisfy us as individuals if we couldn’t be a good role model for young women athletes. I know that satisfies me and I know that satisfies her. If we can give back and be good role models and push them to be the best they can be, I know that’s what we both want.”
Their playing careers did overlap for several years at Marshfield High School, and while Andie did play basketball, her focus was on softball. She did manage to finish 27th on the all-time Tigers’ basketball scoring list; however, for the record, Taylor ranks No. 1 all-time.