Since the program first began, Metea Valley softball has struggled to maintain a level of success, especially in the postseason. The Mustangs have endured years with many peaks and valleys. They haven’t had a winning season since 2017 and have never advanced to a regional final. Head coach Michaela Schlattman looks to change that path in her first season with the black and gold. She became just the second coach ever in the program replacing longtime coach Kris Kalivas. Check out the latest feature story, presented by Edward Medical Group.
Michaela Schlattman: “The opportunity arose when the head coaching position opened. Matt Fehrmann was the one that gave me the opportunity for the coaching role. I’m so thankful that he was able to take me under his wing and really commit to me being first year head coach knowing my experience and knowing all the things that I can bring to this program like positivity, energy-wise, and everything.”
That experience with the game of softball goes back to her high school days at Plainfield Central where she played varsity as a freshman and climbed her way to Second Team All-State as a junior and senior. She went on to play shortstop in college at Miami of Ohio and led the team to a MAC Tournament title as a freshman, while earning First Team All-Conference honors. Prior to her junior season, she transferred to LSU to finish out her playing career behind the plate as a catcher. Michaela Schlattman then became a graduate assistant for Indiana University softball from 2019-2021 while earning her Master’s in Secondary Education. When she showed up at Metea, it didn’t take long for her to click with the girls.
Schlattman: “Honestly, once I got the coaching position, just meeting these girls has been awesome. Just getting to know them, getting to be with them. They’re just great individuals, they’re great humans, they just want to learn and grow and they just love the game of softball. They make it fun.”
A Quick Adjustment to a New Face
Despite going through a major change, the veteran Mustang players are thrilled to have Schlattman as the new face leading the team.
Nia Lewis: “I was having a new energy in the dugout. She’s been a really great coach, really supportive. She’s done a really good job for her first year and I’m really enjoying her. I can’t wait for the season to grow and for the Metea Mustangs to grow as a softball team the next few years.”
Nevaeh Cruz: “Me and Nia, we’ve been here since our freshman year on varsity. At first, it was definitely a little bit difficult in the beginning when we heard that we were having a new coaching staff come in. But after seeing Coach Schlattman and the other coaches come in, we knew from the start that they were going to be fun to work with.”
Schlattman: “They’re just fun, they’re goofy, they have just the best personalities. And even when I bring them in, I’m so excited. ‘Hey, let’s have some fun this inning.’ It’s softball. It’s supposed to be a game, it’s supposed to be fun, and they take that and they run with it so I love that.”
Growth On and Off the Diamond
What she hopes to achieve with these girls goes beyond just helping them improve on the diamond.
Schlattman: “My main goal is, like I said, not only to grow them as athletes, but to grow them as individuals and humans. Softball is something that’s going to end for a lot of them, but you can see where this opportunity has taken me in the game of softball and I want them to really just see that opportunity that softball can give them. They’re great role models and great at representing the sport of softball at Metea Valley.”
With only four seniors on varsity, the young, but promising Mustangs currently sit at 3-5. However, the team began DVC play with a dominant victory over DeKalb. And in the two warmest days of the month of April, the Metea offense showed its potential by scoring a total of 25 runs in two games. With many more conference games to come, we’ll see how Metea Valley progresses under Coach Schlattman, and if that postseason success is finally here for the black and gold program.
For Naperville Sports Weekly, I’m Josiah Schueneman.
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