HELENA — In the near 30 years that Mike Miller has been the head coach for the Helena Capital softball team, this is a new one: completely starting fresh after last year the COVID-19 pandemic canceled the spring softball season.
"We're looking at almost like I'm a new coach in a new area. Last time I saw these girls I was able to coach them was two years ago, and quite frankly, most of them were playing on the JV, which is a completely different level," said Miller.
Though Miller feels like he's walked into a new position for the first time in almost three decades, there are some positives to it.
“As coaches, I know we all work to try to not have preconceived notions about where we might be. I think it makes us look at everybody because everybody's changed. It's been a couple of years since we've coached them, so I think there's some upsides," said Miller. "I think girls maybe are a little bit more enthused, they're anxious to play, so there's always an upside.”
The last time the Helena Capital girls played a game was on May 24, 2019 where they finished fourth at the Class AA state tournament. Now trying to come back after nearly two years off the diamond, it feels a bit odd to senior Jenna Priddy, but she feels the Bruins are getting up to speed quickly.
“It still feels like my junior season, because I missed last year, and I have to remind myself that it's actually my last one,” said Priddy. “At first it was harder than I thought it was going to be to get back into the swing of things. But once you got into it, it kind of was just muscle memory getting normal stuff.”
While missing out on last season in its entirety was a tough pill to swallow for a lot of spring sports athletes around Montana, senior Lexi McNew said one of the things she's looking forward to this season is getting back on the diamond with her teammates.
"Last year, we didn't get a season, so just to have that connection with your teammates and play again, because last year, we didn't get to play it all," said McNew.
The Bruins will open their softball season at home on April 3 when they host the Bozeman Hawks and the Gallatin Raptors.