On October 1st, Coach Zimny will leave CCSJ where she has coached girls softball and volleyball to become a pitching coach for Kent State.
Highland High school standout softball pitcher Stephanie Zimny found her home at CCSJ after transitioning from an All-American season as a junior college athlete at South Suburban College. Her fit as an athlete at CCSJ was a rally for her friends that came with her to form the team, and she helped by earning 1st team all-conference honors and posting the school season strike-out record. Zimny finished her bachelor’s degree as an education major in 2009 and was named the CCSJ Athlete of The Year.
“My favorite memory as an athlete at CCSJ was hitting a bomb over left field against Trinity Christian. I was always a line-drive hitter, so it was only my second homerun in college, and I ran back to the dugout and wanted to call my dad!”
She cheerily recounted the memory with a smile. She finished the season ranked 19th nation wide as a pitcher, and 2nd on the team in stolen bases.
Her transition into coaching was seamless, and she steered the Crimson Wave Softball team to conference tournament appearances each of her five years as the head coach of the program, breaking the season-wins record in 2011, 2012, and 2013. She assumed a full-time staff position by coaching volleyball as well, and helped to lead the squad to its first ever conference tournament appearance.
As a young coach, she managed the difficult task of balancing her relationship with her athletes on both the personal and professional level; the fine line between her nurturing character as a quasi-sister and a professional mentor. Much of the prosperity she achieved as a coach came from that difficult balancing act.
Her favorite memory as a coach was defeating the Olivet softball team for the first time ever in 2011. “I called my dad crying. That was my proudest moment ever. We rallied to beat them 11-8 in eight innings, and I could not believe the effort that my girls put forth that day.”
In middle September, the softball and volleyball teams were both shocked to hear the news that Zimny had plans to depart from her Alma Mater and coaching positions in lieu of an opportunity that she could only describe as the acquisition of her grandest dreams. Teary eyes and sobs met her when she broke the news to her teams, but the sentiment of her athletes was not remorse.
“I was actually shocked by how mature and supportive the girls were when I told them I am leaving to take on a specialized coaching position at Kent State. All of my girls knew that the opportunity is something that I have always dreamed of as a professional. It was such a bittersweet moment, and I had been very emotional leading up to my decision. A few times during the week of my interview for the position, I had to abruptly leave practice to find a place and gather my emotions. I really didn’t know what to expect, and I love my athletes so much that I felt as if I were going through a sort of break-up.”
On October 1st, Zimny will be joining the Kent State softball program as a pitching coach. An NCAA Division I program, the team comes into the 2015-2016 season as the reigning MAC conference champs.
When asked what the future has in store for her, Zimny reflected nostalgically about former colleagues and athletes at CCSJ, and said, “I’m very excited to be a part of such a big program, and to be coaching at the highest level of the sport, but I guess the reason why this is so emotional for me, isn’t only because I’m leaving behind a great bunch of girls, but also because I am actually to the point of achieving my dream and my goals of being at this level, and in the same token, doing what I love. This is all just happening so fast. It’s so unreal that I’m spontaneously chasing my dreams”
Despite other recent issues of turnover occurring within the CCSJ Athletics staff, it is safe to say that the CCSJ community can actually reflect on the service that Zimny provided with a great deal of pride and gratitude, and wish her well on her journey.
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