Former Cougar softball star returns as assistant coach

Note: Click on an image to view it in full size. Photos courtesy of Allison Bauch.

A former Conant Cougar, a collegiate softball player at the University of Illinois (U of I), and a champion with the Chicago Bandits, Allison Bauch has returned to Conant as an assistant varsity softball coach.

Bauch said that her desire for coaching grew from the love of the game. “I’m very appreciative of what the game gave me, and to be able to have the opportunity to have that same effect on other people is what really drew me in,” she said.

Coaching at Conant will not be Bauch’s first time coaching. She previously coached at U of I during her fifth year there in the fall of 2016 while she was completing her student teaching. She also coached at Elk Grove last season when she was a student teacher there and was also a coach for the Schaumburg Sluggers 14U team last season.

Even though she already has some coaching experience, coaching at Conant will be different for Bauch. “Being on the other side of things is a whole different perspective. Now you see what goes on behind the scenes,” she said. “It makes you appreciate what the coaches do because it’s a lot more than you think when you’re playing, but it’s an adjustment.”

Head Varsity Softball Coach Cathyann Smith said that she feels Bauch will provide a whole new angle on the game. “Her ability to connect with kids is going to have a different perspective than mine, but yet she has the work ethic of a veteran coach. That makes it a unique experience,” she said.

Smith said that Bauch’s softball experiences will be very beneficial to the team this year. “She knows what it takes to be a leader on a team, both at the college level and at the high school level,” Smith said. “The fact that she’s been in all three arenas of playing in the conference championships in high school, playing in the Big 10 tournament, and then obviously playing professional gives her a wide range of experience to share with kids about what it takes at the next level.”

Jackie Burchfield, ‘18, said she is looking forward to having Bauch as a coach this year. “Bauch will definitely be a huge attribute to our team this year. She has gone through the same experiences as many of us girls and knows the game very well,” she said. “She will be able to connect well with us as players and give us perspectives that we wouldn’t have had before, considering she is so young and already has good relationships with some of us.”

Burchfield said she plans on using Bauch as a role model and a guide to help her and her teammates throughout the season. She said, “I couldn’t be happier to go through my senior season with as incredible of an athlete and person as Bauch is.”

Bauch said she really enjoyed her softball experiences at Conant. “Conant was a lot of fun. When I played here, we were pretty good. We were ranked first in State,” she said. “Being able to be on a caliber team like that was a lot of fun. We really got along. We were all on the same page and we were good, so it was fun.”

She received high praise from her coaches, as she played at the varsity level all four years of high school. Smith said, “Coach Bauch was a very talented athlete who worked hard, doubted herself at times, but grew and matured as a student athlete every year. She was a leader to the younger kids by her junior and senior year.”

Bauch has many memories from Conant softball but said her favorite one was winning Conference back-to-back her junior and senior years in 2011 and 2012. The team had not won Conference since 1974.

After finishing a very successful high school career, Bauch decided to continue her academic and softball careers at U of I. She said, “I knew I always wanted to play, but I actually committed my senior year to U of I. I always wanted to go to U of I, but playing softball became a factor my senior year.”

After graduating from U of I, Bauch played a year with the Chicago Bandits and won the National Pro Fastpitch championship with the team in 2016.

This year, Bauch said she is looking forward to getting to know the girls. She said, “My favorite thing is learning how each person ticks and what motivates them and what gets them going because everyone is different. I’m excited to be in the environment again.”

Smith is excited to have Bauch back with the Conant softball program. She said, “We are very lucky to have Coach Bauch back as a Cougar. Once a Cougar, always a Cougar.”

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