Baseball, softball tout first-year coaches during transition

by Erich Bogner, Sports Reporter

INDIANOLA, Iowa — Head baseball coach Nathan Roling and head softball coach Brent Matthias are both new to Simpson but not to the Iowa Conference.

Roling was hired in 2016 after Ben Blake resigned. Roling graduated from Loras and was an assistant coach in the IIAC before coming to Simpson.

“I played at Loras for a few years, and I coached at Coe College and Loras College, so I’ve been in the conference for, shoot, upwards of 10 years now,” Roling said.

Getting to know the players on a personal level is the most important part for Roling, he said baseball is an avenue to teach young men life lessons about how sports and intercollegiate athletics can help them later in life.

A close relationship with every player helps Roling know the strengths and weaknesses of his team and how to bring the best out of every one of them.

“One of my favorite parts of the job is being with the guys on a day-to-day basis,” Roling said. “There aren’t too many jobs where you get to hang out on a baseball field with young men at a cool point in their lives and you just get to have fun. Yes, we work hard and it might not seem fun on a daily basis, but when it comes down to it, we get to play a game we love and be around people who have similar goals and aspirations to ours on a daily basis.”

He said he is excited to be a part of the Simpson and Indianola communities and be so close to Des Moines. He thinks the location and communities will help the baseball program recruit a lot of good players and said this opportunity is something special.

Roling’s favorite baseball player is Chipper Jones. Roling’s dad was a big Milwaukee Braves fan before they moved to Atlanta, and Jones was a rookie at the same time Roling started paying attention to professional baseball.

Unlike Roling’s arrival, Matthias’ story is a little more complicated. He was named Simpson’s head coach in December 2015 but was under contract as the head coach at Waverly-Shell Rock until the end of the 2016 season. So last season, Simpson softball was coached by Kyle Owens, a longtime assistant coach.

As an assistant baseball coach, Matthias helped Wartburg to four straight IIAC championships and trips to the Division III NCAA Tournament.

“Our practices have been a lot different than what we’ve had in the past,” senior Paige Lammers said. “Every day before practice we meet in a classroom for 30 minutes to go over our practice plan, discuss what the week ahead is going to be like with games and anything else that needs to be addressed. During this time coach also shows us some type of motivational video to get us focused for practice.”

Junior pitcher Maggie Long said Matthias is energetic and expects his team to match his energy every day. She said he also mixes up what they do in practices, which keeps the players on their toes.

“He seems very involved in recruiting. Every on the team has had lunch with at least a couple recruits this year,” Long said. “You can tell he’s very motivated to keep this program running and even bring it back to what it was in the late’90s.”

Long said one of Matthias’s favorite phrases is “AIO: Adapt, improvise and overcome.”

She said it works well for the team the last few years. Long has been at Simpson three years and played under three coaches. She said it’s also a good motto for softball because they have to be prepared for anything every game.

Roling and Matthias are eager to be a part of the future of their respective programs at Simpson. Baseball plays at home at 3 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday against Roling’s alma mater, Loras, and softball hosts a double header beginning at 4 p.m. in Indianola against Saint Benedict.