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The journey home: Ackermann lands job as softball coach

Coach Ackermann encourages the next batter as Sara Sempek on third for the Lopers


On Sept. 4 UNK athletic director Marc Bauer announced that Kearney-native Katie (Bolin) Ackermann would become the ninth head coach in the history of  UNK softball. Her duties are effective immediately, with fall scrimmages beginning at month’s end.

“We had 47 applicants for the coach opening and of the 47 we brought eight in for interviews,” Bauer said. “Katie rose to the top of the pile.”

Ackermann’s playing career stared at Kearney High School and continued at Chadron State College. In her final season with the Eagles, she led the team with 17 HR and 51 RBI’s.

After her playing days, she was an assistant coach at her alma mater for one season. She resurfaced in 2016 as an assistant for McCook Community College. 

Despite this being Ackermann’s first head coaching job, there is not a lack of confidence. It’s the quality that sold Bauer on giving her the job.

“She’s strong when she talks, she is very confident. She inspired me through our conversations during the interview process and honestly, I didn’t feel that with anyone else. It was all about ‘I just want to prove myself and I just want to show you that I can do this job’. That kind of talk is like ‘wow’, it was exciting,” Bauer said.

Ackermann attributes her accent as a coach, to great role models along the way.

“Over the last three years at McCook, I have had a great mentor in Josh Barnes,” Ackermann said. “He just took me under his wing. He almost considered me as a co-head coach, and he let me be involved in the entire process of what he does.”

She helped turn around the Indians program during her three seasons. The last two years, MCC has bolstered one of the best offenses in their region. “There are three main pieces to softball, you have your hitting, your defense, and your pitching. For us, we needed two out of three and needed them to be as solid as possible,” Ackermann said.

Building a balanced team is something Ackermann hopes to accomplish to begin her tenure at UNK. This was something stressed in her time with the Indians.

“We learned from previous years that the bigger the pitching staff the better variation we could have,” Ackermann said. “We believed in scoring runs and that’s what I have been about my whole life.”

She now inherits a team that has experience, which should help in the re-build process. All four pitchers from last year are back, and two new pitching recruits are being brought in.

On the offensive side of the ball, UNK has all their starters back except for the previous third baseman, Cheyenne Hamilton.

One thing that excites Ackermann with the change is the opportunity to be around family.

“The biggest part is I get to be in Kearney,” Ackermann said. “I get to be back with family and around people who continuously support me. This athletic department is life-changing for me. In the past, I have had supporters, but this is a different type of department.”

The new head coach also looks forward to opposition.

“I get to compete in a really good conference in the MIAA, and I am a competitor at heart.”

UNK Softball’s fall season began on Oct. 6 against Garden City Community College.

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