The adage, “Once a Slicer always a Slicer” continues to ring true for former LPHS softball player Rylee Penziol.
Growing up in LaPorte, Penziol began playing t-ball at the young age of five while attending Crichfield Elementary. From there, she attended Boston Middle School and joined the girls’ softball team at LaPorte.
“My softball career went pretty well. I got to play with a really solid group of girls at the high school, and we had successful seasons,” Penziol said.
However, during her senior year of high school, before she could attend Saint Mary’s College, Penziol tore her rotator cuff, labrum, and bicep tendon. She underwent three different surgeries going into her first college season, but her shoulder still didn’t function the way it used to.
“My softball career ended a lot faster than I had hoped it would and didn’t end the way I wanted, but I cherish the memories I did make and the friendships I made through softball,” Penziol said.
Penziol began coaching travel softball and elementary school basketball. From there, she joined the high school softball team as a coach and has continued to coach for four years.
“I chose to coach because I really love the game, but I love helping kids more. After getting into coaching, I knew I found my calling. It’s so much fun to be surrounded by the game and players who love it just as much as you do,” Penziol said.
Penziol’s love for the game is something that she wants to reflect onto her players.
“I think something that any athlete has to have before competing is heart for the game. Without passion and a love for the game, it won’t be as meaningful. When you play with that heart and passion, you play at your absolute best. It’s really hard to coach passion and heart, and the best athletes are the ones who have that on their own,” Penziol said.
Penziol dedicates a substantial amount of time and thought to her coaching, knowing that softball is a very mental game and that all players need their coaches’ support.
“I think every coach has their own way of being influential. In my opinion, I think being someone the athletes can come to in a time of need is really important. I also want my athletes to know that I genuinely care about them, and I will always want the best for them. As long as you find a way to make your athletes know that, I think you’re doing your best at being influential. Players feed off your energy. I do my best to show my athletes that I believe in them and their capabilities. I know if I have that mindset, it will rub off on them too,” Penziol said.
Along with her players, Penziol adores the other coaches she works with, too.
“We got along really well. I get to hang out with people who love the game just as much as I do every day during the season. It doesn’t get much better than that. We are all extremely competitive, and I think it helps us to be on the same page when coaching,” Penziol said.
Penziol plans to continue her coaching career as long as absolutely possible.
“I hope to coach until I’m not able to anymore. I am moving to Michigan, and I can’t wait to find a program there that I can call my own and build up. Being a coach and someone that kids can look up to is the best job you could ever have. I look forward to coming to games and practice every day and I think it’s rare to find that in a job,” Penziol said.
Penziol has contributed so much to the LPHS softball program as both a player and a coach. We wish her the best of luck with her time in Michigan.