Sunday , April 22, 2018 - 5:15 AM
KAYSVILLE — Collette West woke up a few days before Viewmont High School softball’s season opener against Box Elder.
The 21-year-old Viewmont graduate and former softball player was preparing for her first season as an assistant coach for her alma mater, eager to get some experience and get her foot in the coaching door.
When she returned home that day, West was the new head coach.
“It’s good to be back,” West said, laughing.
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After Karly Bates left Viewmont to coach at Clearfield in August 2017, the school hired Kyle Johnson. He coached the team until March 7, when principal Jason Smith notified parents via email he was no longer affiliated with the program but did not explain why.
The Vikings didn’t have time to think about having a fourth head coach in just three seasons. West was appointed head coach in time for Viewmont’s first game on March 13 against a loaded Box Elder team.
The Bees won that game 18-0 and pitcher Nyah DeRyke allowed just two hits. It’s been a difficult year for Viewmont, which has an overall record of 1-15 and a Region 5 mark of 0-8.
“Luckily I have two awesome assistant coaches — Jodi Rhodehouse and Roger Farnsworth — that are helping me out a ton, so it’s been good,” West said.
By her own admission, West is an intense and passionate coach, and she’s grateful for the balanced presence of Rhodehouse and Farnsworth.
As far as the coaching goes, the fact she’s 21 and only a few years older than players on the team means she can relate to them well. It’s almost like she could be everyone’s big sister.
“I actually do have a younger sister (Calicia) on the team,” West said. “It is a little weird, but it’s definitely easy to talk to quite a few of them and relate to them. I definitely understand what’s going on in their lives because I was just there.”
West played softball at Viewmont and graduated in 2014 after hitting .486 in her senior season. That got her some attention from Colby Community College in Colby, Kansas (population: 5,418), about three-and-a-half hours east of Denver on Interstate 70.
West led the Trojans in batting average both seasons she played there, which took her to Division II Fort Hays State last softball season, about an hour-and-a-half east of Colby.
But she broke her throwing hand, missed the first month of the season, batted .221 and decided she missed Utah with its mountains and outdoor activities. So she came back.
“(My sister and I) get a lot more time together because of it. It’s been good because I’ve been gone living out of the state the past three years and now I’m totally in my element, back in the community and everything,” West said.
The constant change has been hard to deal with for some Viewmont players, but all they can do is move forward, West said.
“I’ve been trying to create an environment that I would’ve wanted to play in, because I just barely got done playing. That’s been my goal this season is to have them get better every day and do the best with our circumstances,” she said.
Viewmont has four games remaining, potentially more should the Vikings qualify for the playoffs. Once the season’s done, West will have something else to concentrate on.
She’s finishing her degree in organizational leadership from Fort Hays State via online classes. West says she’s on track to graduate in May.
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