Mackenzie Bender-Advanced Pitching Coach
Mackenzie has played in multiple national championships either with her team or as a pick up and received a national bronze medal as a U21 player. Her softball career continued into post-secondary where she played for Simon Fraser University competing in division 2 NCAA, GNAC Conference, and helped her team make it to the conference finals in her rookie season as a relief pitcher. After 2.5 years at Simon Fraser a major concussion brought her back to Edmonton where she finished her Kinesiology Degree at the University of Alberta. Last year she was brought on as a pitching coach for the Sherwood Park U17 team and aided them in receiving their silver medal at provincials. She still plays competitive women’s fastball for the St. Albert Pride and has a passion for mentoring the younger generation of pitchers and players of the game.
Her philosophy for pitching comes from having multiple pitching coaches and gaining the most improvements from ones who allowed her to work with what she had. She believes that every pitcher is different yet there are some key fundamentals that all pitchers should strive for. This includes driving hard with the legs towards the catcher, having an open body midway through the pitch, and the hand going past the hip before closing in order to achieve proper spin. She wants to encourage pitchers to feel their body positioning so that they can make adaptations on the spot and understand the “why” and “how” of their pitches. Having a strong fastball and changeup to start is highly regarded and once a pitcher has those then movement pitches can be taught. Her goal is to grow the number of strong pitchers coming out of Alberta and give them the opportunity to play in post-secondary.
Shania played minor softball for the white rock renegades. She has won numerous provincial championships, Canada cup championships, and many other tournaments. She attended the Canadian national championships 5 times, and has 2 gold medals in U15 and U17, 1 silver, and 1 bronze.
She attended Purdue University Fort Wayne, which is a division one university in Indiana. She played there for 5 seasons, and earned two pitcher of the week awards (one in summit league, one in horizon league). In her final season of playing, she broke the record for most pitching appearances in school history. She also left the program in the top-ten for wins, and also ranked 5th in program history with career strikeouts. Shania is excited to join the U15A Hrycun coaching staff this season along with getting involved in SPMSA camps and clinics.
Rachael Clarke-Outfield Specialist/Rep Coach
Rachael spent 2 years at Rainy River Community College, a NJCAA Div 3 in International Falls, Minnesota. There she made the 1st team all-division for the 2013-14 season as well as the 1st team all-conference that same season, and the 2nd team all-division for the 2012-13 season. The 2013-14 season the team won their divisional and represented region 13B at the NJCAA Div 3 nationals in Rochester MN. She then transferred to Chowan University, a NCAA Div 2 in North Carolina. There she received 1st team all-conference for the 2014-15 season and 2nd team all conference 2015-16 season. At Chowan her team were the Division Champions for 2 consecutive seasons, and Conference Champion runner ups for 2 consecutive seasons as well.
She graduated from Chowan University with a 4.0 GPA, Presidential Scholar recipient, with a BSc in Psychology.
Rachael was part of the coaching staff of the U16 Storm that took the Silver medal in last year's Provincials.? Rachael has an unmatched enthusiasm for coaching young women. She brings her huge depth of knowledge and communicates it in a way young players can understand.
We look to expand her role in our program, so that more players can benefit from her knowledge, particularly the science of the outfield, as these positions become increasing important as players reach new age divisions.
Racheal comes from a very sporty family and is continuing her education, as well participating in other sport past times, such as curling.
Kate Talaga-Beginning Pitching Instructor
Kate played her entire minor career with Sherwood Park Softball. Kate attended Nationals in both U16A and U19A. She was also selected to be part of Team Alberta and participated in an exchange with a Team from Japan. Kate has been offering beginning and intermediate pitching lessons for the past number of seasons both for Sherwood Park and other associations. Kate loves to work with new pitchers and offers a calm and reassuring presence as players take on this new and difficult skill. Kate has also coached with the association. Kate is a Registered Psychiatric Nurse and enjoys playing ringette, softball and being outdoors.
Annie Gogich-Catching Instructor/Rep Coach
Annie is a Associate Manager at Orange Theory Fitness and dedicated instructor and coach. Having herself been instructed by over 30 qualified instructors, coaches, pro and NCAA players in the past, Annie was a student of the game and one of the most feared catchers to come out of Alberta. Her catching skills lead to multiple provincial medals, high finishes at Canadian championships she attended from 2007-2013, Alberta and Canada Summer Games and a one year stint at Saddleback Junior College in California. Annie has been instructing and coaching for the past 3 years and enjoys making breakthroughs with her students and supporting their accomplishments.
Aside from catching Annie was a talented all around softball player, a lefty with big power, who could bunt and slap when she thought it was a good idea and play any position including pitching. She loves bringing all of her experience to her students she instructs and always has time for players with questions about anything that has to do with softball.
Her hobbies include snowboarding, basketball and travelling and she loves bringing her dog, Charlie wherever she goes.