By KIRK HARDCASTLE
NIACC Sports Information Director
MASON CITY – It hasn't taken Dan Gratz long to dive into his new job as the NIACC softball coach.
Gratz, who was hired as the NIACC softball coach in September, came to NIACC from the University of Iowa where he was the director of softball operations.
Gratz said that he missed the coaching aspect of the game when he was at Iowa.
"I love the interaction with the players and helping them grow," Gratz said when he was hired in September. "I love to help them learn. It is fun to see them get better and see those things click. It is fun to be a part of that."
A few months into being the head coach, Gratz has already started to help his players grow.
He's put in place a coaching staff that includes Bob Horner, Halie Greenwood and Jamie Kruger.
The Lady Trojans played a 10-game fall schedule and now are in the midst of their off-season conditioning and training program to get them ready for the upcoming 2018 season.
Gratz has a definite plan in place to make the NIACC softball program the best it possibly can be.
"Tier 1 of our lives needs to be academics, family and softball in no order," Gratz' philosophy states. "If our athletes prioritize those three things, we will undoubtedly be successful."
Gratz says he and his coaching staff need to be "innovative, data-driven, willing to think outside the box and constantly looking to grow."
"We need to focus on gearing our athletes' lifestyles toward growth and success," he said, "not just on the field.
"Each member of our staff is 100 percent committed to the individual personal and athletic growth of each athlete while also growing together as a unit."
Gratz and his coaching staff have also been busy recruiting athletes for the 2019 season. He says the staff wants the roster to include the best players in a one-hour radius around Mason City.
"And we want the rest coming from Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, Des Moines, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Illinois," Gratz said. "Keeping the best talent close to home offers many positives," he said, "with family and community support being two of the biggest."
Once a recruit signs on with the Lady Trojans, Gratz will expect his players to pay attention to detail.
"Do the little things right," Gratz said, "Don't rely on Mom and Dad.
"Carry your own bag. Carry team equipment. Pick up your trash. Say please and thank you. First one in, last one out. Be a good teammate. Be a good person. Be respectful. Be humble."
And he will expect maximum effort at all times from his players.
"Live in the moment," the coach said. "Make what you are doing right now the most important thing."