Under the direction of veteran coach Greg Klotz, the New Berlin West softball team won the 2016 WIAA state championship on June 11 at Goodman Diamond in Madison.
The Vikings finished with a record of 26-5, an .839 winning percentage, the Woodland West Division title and the Whitnall regional championship and Chilton sectional championship titles.
As a result, he was named the Now All-Suburban Coach of the Year for his efforts but quickly pointed out it was an honor he shared with his coaching staff, Tim Minik and Darcey Bernfeld.
'My coaches are my two greatest assets,' he said. 'I'm not an Xs and Os guy, but Tim is. He knows where the players need to be and how to get them there.
'I'm more of the bigger picture guy, what needs to be done three to four weeks from now. And when it comes to building chemistry, we're both on the same page.'
Minik coaches third, calls pitches and works with the outfield. Bernfeld played at UW-Whitewater for four years. She coaches first and bounces around between the infield and outfield.
Related to Darcey
'Our players can see themselves in Darcey,' Klotz said. 'When I called Whitewater about her, I was told she was the hardest working player; she made them a better team. Being female and 25 years old, the girls can really relate to her.'
When asked about Klotz, Cheyenne Sowinski was quick to point out 'he was organized, always made sure we had a plan. For example, we took batting on the morning of a game.'
Klotz also let the girls warm up on their own.
'As long as they were warming up and preparing their own way,' he said. 'They're individuals, and they come together at the start of the game. For example, with Cheyenne, I leave it up to her to decide when she wants to warm up. I would tell her, 'You're pitching; let your catcher know when you're ready to pitch.'
'Some players are rigid, but she's flexible. When that team camaraderie is there, she's feeling good.'
Koltz put together a tough nonconference schedule to help ready his squad for down the road. Of the five losses, New Berlin lost them by a total of seven runs.
'Coming off last year (17-10), we knew we would be better,' Klotz said. If we could put together our best team on defense, which we progressively did this year. We knew after our first 19 games (16-3) our defense was ready to go. We had some defensive growing pains, but by the season, we knew we would be as good (as 2015) this year.'
Klotz was looking for improvement at the plate as well.
'Some players had a good year last season, but we needed people to step up this year. Some did this year, and others had phenomenal years and picked up the slack. Leah Marrari, for example, had a great season.'
On the trip to state, Klotz admitted they didn't know much about Grafton, their sectional final opponent who they beat, 13-6.
'We just prepared for who we had next,' he said. 'We knew there was not not a team we couldn't beat.'
After serving as an assistant in 2011, Koltz was a co-coach with Corey Scheel until he took over two years ago.
Coaching his kids
Klotz has had the opportunity to coach his two girls, Mallory, who plays for UW-Whitewater, and Camryn.
'I travel with Mal all over the country,' he said about coaching her Illinois team. 'You talked about a lot when you travel 20,000 miles in a car. We really got to know each other. On the field, she was more stubborn than Camryn.
'Cam just rolls with it. She is easy to coach. She doesn't need to be in a vocal position. Cam is easier going. Coaching with Mal, I missed what I was missing with Cam.
'Coach of the Year is an honor, but it is something that is a team effort. My staff, Jordan Napoli (the athletic director), the administration. Without everyone pulling together, it couldn't happen.'