WHEATLAND – A serendipitous meeting in Cheyenne brought a strong choice in pitching coaches to teach her techniques to Platte County girls.
Jess Yost who played college softball at Bemidji State University in northern Minnesota and was somewhat of a legend in the land of Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox, was an All-American second team selection at BSU.
According to the BSU softball website, Yost was selected to the Fastpitch News 2017 NCAA Division II All-American list. This Followed a historic season, which included program record for wins (25) and strikeouts (307). Yost earned a spot on the FPN All-American Second-Team Pitchers list. The award marked the first its kind for a Bemidji State Softball Player and never before had a pitcher recorded over 20 victories at the university.
Yost is coaching in a three-week clinic where she comes in and teaches age-appropriate techniques to the 10U group, the 12U group and the 14U and older group each Wednesday.
“The turnout is just amazing,” Yost said. “I am surprised and shocked but it’s awesome. It’s so cool to see so many young pitchers wanting to learn.”
Yost became a Wyoming resident in 2018, moving to Cheyenne to be closer to her fiancé’ and his family.
She works for the Laramie County School District where she has four years of coaching experience, and coaches volleyball, basketball and she is hoping also to coach softball. She graduated with a degree in exercise science and had an opportunity to play professionally in Germany, but turned it down as life was making other plans for her out west.
“I love coaching,” she said. “It’s a way for me to still stay involved and teach kids the right way to do things. That way they grow up and they learn to love the sport because they are already doing the right things. At 15, 16, 17 these little ones will know the right way, and that really makes me proud of them, that they started so young and continued with it.”
In coaching, doing the right things yields a higher degree of success and a lower level of stress due to a lack of consistently performing. The biggest challenge coaching older kids is that they either had no proper teaching or the teaching they received was flawed in some way.
For a Varsity coach to come down and coach in clinic situations poses its own set of challenges. For Yost, it is the attention span of the younger kids – especially in warm summer situations.
“But, their want and their desire to learn is so big at this age,” she said. “They want know and want to throw all the time. You see them right here after we are done, they are still throwing. It’s awesome to see how much they want to get better.”
A mutual friend introduced Jodie Fitzwater, new Wheatland head softball coach to Yost and the rest is pretty much, as they say, history.
“We used to use a different pitching coach,” Fitzwater said. “That lady is on maternity leave and my friend said, ‘hey I stumbled upon Jess and she’s fabulous’ and he said that he’d highly recommend her.”
Fitzwater said that Yost, in addition to the three-week clinic would be available to lessons beyond the clinic dates if the kids wanted extra help.
This is the first year that softball will be a high school sport in Wyoming, and Fitzwater couldn’t be more excited.
“I’m super excited,” she said. “We helped softball get going around here again, and then excited for my daughter because she will be a senior this year. She was worried that it wasn’t going to go through until next year, so just the chance to give the girls the opportunity to play is wonderful.”
This year the state will be split into two divisions, one east and one west conference.
“It’s going to be a challenge and we’re going to really have some tough teams,” Fitzwater said. “The girls are excited and what’s great is I’m hoping to see that excitement with the younger girls knowing now that they have high school softball.”