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Wadena-Deer Creek School
Wadena-Deer Creek Softball

Monday, August 3, 2015

Wadena Native Named New UMD Softball Coach

By Kyle Gylsen - Duluth

She certainly has proven herself the past 16 seasons at the College of St. Scholastica and now Jen Walter will get the chance to continue that high level of success right down the road at the University of Minnesota Duluth.

UMD athletic director Josh Berlo announced the hiring of Walter, a 1981 graduate of Wadena High School, as the new Bulldog softball head coach on Wednesday, July 22 – just the school's third coach since the 1981-82 season.

"We are honored to have Jen Walter join the Bulldogs," said Berlo. "Coach Walter has a long-standing record of success and we look forward to her furthering the excellence of Bulldog softball in the classroom, competition and community."

Since taking over the head coaching responsibilities at St. Scholastica in 2000, Walter directed the Saints to a 447-233 overall record (a .657 winning percentage), five NCAA Division III Tournament appearances (2006, 2011, 2012, 2014 and 2015), 15 Upper Midwest Athletic Conference regular season championships, 13 UMAC Tournament titles, and one trip to the NAIA National Tournament (2004).

CSS also eclipsed the 30-victory plateau on seven occasions and failed to reach the .500 mark only three times (including in two of her initial three seasons).

In addition, Walter helped produce three CSS All-Americans -- Laura Heise (2004 and 2006), Erica Kozacek (2006) and Rilee Dawson (2007) – 11 UMAC Player of the Year award recipients, 43 All-Region selections, 71 All-UMAC picks and 81 National Fastpitch Coaches Association Scholar-Athletes.

In 2004, the Saints received their first-ever national ranking, peaking at No. 13 in the NAIA poll. The program aligned with the NCAA the following spring and CSS just missed out on a NCAA III Tournament invitation (despite going 34-7 overall), but  did receive the school's first bid to that event in 2006.

"This is a new and exciting challenge for me to coach at the next level," said Walter. "I am thrilled to have this opportunity to coach at such a great university and work in an athletic department that has a clear vision."

After helping lead Wadena to the State Class A title in 1979 and two more trips to the state tournament in her junior and senior years, Walter played two years of softball at Golden Valley Lutheran College in Minneapolis, where she was a National Junior College Athletic Association All-American catcher, and continued her collegiate career at Augustana College (S.D.), attaining All-North Central Conference as a senior in 1985.

She went on to serve as the head softball coach at Perham High School (1989-91) and the assistant softball coach at both the Breck School (1991-97) and Robbinsdale Armstrong  High School (1997-99).

Inducted as player into the 2010 Minnesota High School Fastpitch Coaches Association Hall of Fame, Walter received a B.A. degree in health, physical education and recreation from Augustana in 1986. Nine years ago, Walter earned Master Coach status from the National Fastpitch Coaches Association and she continue to evolve as an educator and a coach by participating in the Women Coaches Academy (co-sponsored by the Winstar Foundation and the NCAA).

Walter's Successes in Competition:

8 time UMAC Coach of the Year

15 regular season Conference titles in the past 16 years

Over 400 wins in 16 seasons as St. Scholastica Head Softball Coach

5 NCAA post season tournaments

.936 win percentage in conference as a Head Coach in the UMAC

Earned Master Coach status from the National Fastpitch Coaches Association

2-time High School Softball All-State Honoree at Wadena High School as a player

All-Region Honor as a player at Augustana

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