April 2018

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Page 38 of 188

39 M any student-athletes dream of returning to their alma mater as a coach. For University of Iowa soball alumna Rachel West, that dream became reality. West, who played for the Hawkeyes from 2005-09 and was a volunteer assistant in 2016, joined Iowa's soball program as a full time assistant coach during the summer of 2017. West was an outfielder for the Hawkeyes, starting her career as a right-handed hitter and finishing as a slap hitter. In career records, West ranks fourth in stolen bases (86), eighth in batting average (.341), and 18th in runs (95) in program history. In single-season records, she ranks No. 7 in stolen bases (29) and No. 16 with four triples, both in 2007. In spite of a spectacular playing career, the statistics on the field are not what West remembers. In a recent post in the team's blog, e Dugout, West explains how it felt when she first became a Hawkeye. "I don't remember a lot of details of my playing days, but I'll never forget the way it felt stepping on campus for the first time as an Iowa Hawkeye," said West, a Danville, Iowa, native. "It was the beginning of one of the greatest, most cherished, chapters in my life. I didn't know at the time how impactful my years at Iowa were about to become." As with many people who look back on their college years, there were countless memories. Sometimes, it's hard to choose a favorite. "It's hard to pinpoint one memory as a favorite," said West. "My memories of being a Hawkeye are a compilation video in my mind with a wide range of memories that encompass my experience. ese highlights include team cheers, seeing my family in the stands, the fan love, scratching our numbers in Pearl's dirt before lineups, seeing each other succeed, throwing runners out, diving catches, the bubble runs, office talks with coach, and so many more. e total package is my favorite memory. e good, the bad, and the ugly; it was all part of the experience of being a Hawkeye and I'd do it all over again in a heartbeat." She doesn't get to do everything again, but as a coach, West gets to help others experience those same emotions of being a Hawkeye. "Since I am an alumna, I feel there is common ground that they can appreciate and relate to," said West. Working with girls who now stand where she has stood gives West a different kind of connection with the current Hawkeyes. Although she graduated before any of them began attending Iowa, the phrase "once a Hawkeye, always a Hawkeye" helps her bond in a different way than the other coaches. "Something that makes being on this staff extra sweet is that I get to be part of the teams' experiences at my alma mater," said West. "I've been where they've been, as have the other staff, but I've had Iowa across my chest. I've represented this state, I've sat in those classes, I've sweated and bled on Pearl Field, and that is what makes this an even more unique and special opportunity to me." At the end of the day, being back in black and gold and influencing the next generation of Hawkeyes is an opportunity West is thrilled to have. "I'm excited to have a platform to make a difference in the lives of 22 young women at the greatest university in the country," said West. "at's my favorite part about being back at Iowa."

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