BOZEMAN — Gallatin head softball coach JD Emmert was set to be an assistant with the Bozeman Hawks last year, due to COVID-19 that didn't happen. Now, he finally gets his chance to coach high school softball with Raptors.
“We’re just super excited to get this going and setting this foundation for Gallatin High,” said Emmert.
The new Gallatin High School softball field is unsuitable to play on right now due to the snow melt, so they’re practicing at Van Winkle Stadium. No matter where they are playing, the Raptors are ready for the first season in school history.
“I think that it’s going to be really fun and just like volleyball and basketball, a new experience and getting to lay down the foundation for all the years to come -- that would be really awesome” said Raptors Makyah Albrecht, who plays first and third base.
Being a team of juniors and below, Emmert knows this year isn't about wins or losses, it’s about growth.
“We had a parent meeting a couple of weeks ago, I told them a big thing this year is just going to be have the growth mindset," said Emmert. "Keep building the program, make yourself better every day. Our intention will still be to compete every chance we get, I’m competitive, these girls are competitive.”
But being a young team will provide his players with valuable experience down the road.
"It is good to play at that level of competition for a whole season, even younger than you would normally," Emmert said. "I think we’ll see the benefits a couple of years down the road.”
However, laying down the foundation for a brand new program can bring a little bit of pressure.
“It’s a little nerve-wracking, not going to lie," said pitcher and outfielder Rhianna Ashcraft. "Expectations are out there, so you kind of set the bar a little, but other than that, I’m excited.”
Emmert has win and loss goals for the team, but most of all, he wants to develop his players to be successful later on in life.
“I want these girls to work hard, play hard, compete, have fun, build for their future," he said. "Not just for their future as players, but future as college students, employees, employers, moms and dads and to me that’s the real important stuff and what this is really building.
His players couldn’t be more excited to play for him.
“I think that he’s going to be a great coach and he has a positive attitude and he’s willing to stick with us, even though it’s going to be tough," said Albrecht.
The Raptors kick off their season April 3 at Helena High School.