A winning tradition

by Jessica McDonald

Simpson Head Softball Coach Henry Christowski emphasizes team unity as the basis of his success as a softball coach.

“I strive to have all my players know what a team is and for players to all have the same concept of a team,” said Christowski.

Christowski is in his eighth season coaching at Simpson College. He is the winningest coach in Division III softball with a record of 267-55-1.

Under Christowski’s leadership, the Simpson Storm have appeared in five NCAA Division III national tournaments, won four Division III regional titles, won four IIAC championships and have won two NCAA Division III National Championships.

Christowski and his coaching staff have earned numerous coaching awards as well. In 1999 the Simpson staff was named “Coaching Staff of the Year” by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association and Midwest Regional Coaching Staff of the Year in 1998 and 1999.

Christowski has earned individual awards including Division III Coach of the Year in 1997 and was inducted into the Iowa Girls Coached Hall of Fame during the summer of 1999.

Christowski began his softball coaching legacy in 1969 when he took a job as head softball coach for Norwalk High School.

“I wasn’t really interested in coaching at that time,” said Christowski. “I was up for a promotion to be the junior high principle at Norwalk and I thought it would be in my best interest to take the position.”

Christowski did get the principle job and he continued coaching at Norwalk for 16 years. He was not through with coaching when he stopped coaching at Norwalk. The next season, Indianola High School was in desperate need for a coach and Christowski began coaching again.

“I was in kind of an awkward position because I was still an administrator at Norwalk and I was coaching against my daughter who played at Norwalk,” he said.

Christowski stayed at Indianola longer than he planned but he eventually stopped coaching, but not for long.

Christowski’s stepdaughter was in sixth grade and she wanted to play softball. He began to work with her and before he knew it, he was coaching a fall league for sixth and seventh graders.

While he was coaching his stepdaughter’s team, he got an offer to coach at Dowling where he stayed for six years. Dowling was the end of Christowski’s 26 years of coaching prep softball.

While coaching at the high school level, he posted a record of 879-419. This is the ninth most in state history. His high school teams appeared in eight state tournaments and won nine conference championships.

In 1996, Christowski became the Simpson Storm head softball coach while still coaching at Dowling. He only coached at both levels for two years.

“When the Simpson softball team went to the National Tournament, the two seasons started overlapping and it caused conflict,” said Christowski.

In his first year at Simpson, Christowski and the Storm went 31-10 and made it to the National Tournament for the first time. In 1997, only his second year at Simpson, the Storm went 39-7 and won the National Championship.

Coaching at different levels and different areas has given Christowski an advantage with recruiting softball players to Simpson.

“I know where the good softball programs are at and where to find the talent,” said Christowski. “In many cases, the athletes I coach at Simpson, I have either coached in high school or coached against them. It’s getting to the point now that I have even coached some of my player’s mothers.”

Christowski has become a legend in Iowa softball and he has made the softball program at Simpson College sensational.

“I enjoy seeing players improve as individuals,” said Christowski. “Even though I’m a team oriented coach, I still want my players to enjoy some individual success. The hardest thing for me as a coach is to see individual players work so hard and not reach their goal, I don’t like to see them frustrated.”

Coaching softball at Simpson is not the only thing Christowksi has done. He coached the women’s swim team for one year and he also teaches physical education classes.

Outside of Simpson, Christowski enjoys being outdoors, doing yard work or hunting and fishing. It is no doubt though that sports are Christowski’s true passion.

“I follow most sports, especially baseball. I love to watch my grandkids play sports,” said Christowski.

Christowski will probably never stop coaching; he already has coached some of his grandchildren’s teams.

“Coaching is what I always wanted to do and what I love is coaching,” said Christowski.