Talk about a no-brainer.
New Jacobs athletic director Jeremy Bauer made it official on Friday -- Katie O'Brien is the Golden Eagles' new head softball coach, succeeding Bauer himself.
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Could it have been anyone else? Not likely.
"One of the girls said to me, 'I thought you already were the coach,' " O'Brien laughed after she was one of three teachers to address the Jaocbs student body Friday, which allowed her to announce to the school she is their new softball coach.
O'Brien, a 2006 Jacobs grad and former Daily Herald All-Area catcher, has been Bauer's varsity assistant the past three years, coached the Golden Eagles' freshman team her first year out of college, and has worked Bauer's camps for as long as they both can remember.
Now she gets a shot at being a head varsity coach for the first time, and at the program she helped turn around.
"I think I talked about it in my graduation speech," said O'Brien of her desire to be a head coach. "I'm a goal-setter. My first goal was to come back and teach at Jacobs and then to get to coach with Bauer ... he has been so influential in my life. He taught me about coaching softball, about people, about dealing with conflict and about having fun. He's been like a big brother to me. I wouldn't want to coach under anyone else. He transformed Jacobs softball into what it is now."
What O'Brien, who played two years at Dayton University before a back injury ended her playing career, takes over is one of the consistently more successful programs in the area over the last decade-plus. Under Bauer, the Golden Eagles went 248-126 the past 11 years, winning four regionals and one sectional title.
"He asked me what my goals would be and I said to win another sectional and if we could get to state that would be outstanding," said O'Brien, a catcher who led the Eagles to the Fox Valley Conference championship her senior year, when she hit .396 and allowed only two successful stolen base attempts.
Bauer expects a smooth transition.
"The girls know her and she knows the program," he said. "She coached with me the last three years and it seems like longer than that because of all the summer camps. She's a real high-energy person and we're excited to have her. With me being the ex-head coach I really want them to succeed. It's challenging to step away and see someone else take over but at the same time I know the program is in good hands."
And familiar hands, which is something O'Brien feels will help the transition.
"My greatest asset is the relationship I have with the girls," said O'Brien, who teaches math as well as an honors elective class called Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID), and is the school's Fellowship of Christian Athletes club adviser.
"I've played the game they play and a good amount of these girls have that desire to play at the next level. I can show them if they want that, there's a team out there for them. I want to be able to contribute to the positive things they do and help them build on their successes."