Written by Dennis Mahoney
As a catcher and all-conference selection for Waukegan West High School back in 1990, Luella Gesky was her team’s field general.
Now she’ll be calling the shots as Evanston’s new head softball coach.
Gesky was named Tuesday to replace former coach Kristen Proffitt, who resigned last spring after leading the Wildkits to a 15-16 overall record in her fourth year at the helm. Gesky, who teaches physical education at Evanston, moves up after coaching the ETHS junior varsity squad last year and is eager to take on a new challenge.
“When I was a catcher (at Waukegan West and Hofstra University) I called it playing the field general,” Gesky said. “Now I can run the game and I won’t have to go out there and get dirty.
“Once I started coaching here (four years ago as a varsity assistant to Proffitt) I knew coaching was something I really wanted to do. I realized the effect you can have on a young athlete’s life, not only teaching them a sport but also teaching them about life.
“Now we’re at the point in the program where every year there are two or three freshman who have already played travel ball and are good enough to move right up to the varsity level. We’re also unique because we have a lot of girls who don’t come out for softball as a freshman because they try another sport, then come out for softball for the first time as sophomores.”
Gesky played softball for four years at Hofstra under Hall of Fame coach Bill Edwards, and competed in the College World Series twice. She shifted to the outfield and designated hitter after suffering an ACL injury her freshman season.
She inherits a team that returns two all-Central Suburban League South division players from a year ago, pitcher/first baseman Caitlin Boer and outfielder Maddy Managlia.
The 2013 squad upset No. 5 sectional seed St. Ignatius in the regional opener and then lost to Maine West in the regional championship game by a 3-0 margin. Other returning starters include first baseman Emma Maxwell, second baseman Izzy Bergman, outfielder Allie Nortz and catcher Emily Mathyer.
Gesky expects three players she coached on the JV team --- infielders Ruby Schneider and Aliana Alanguilan and outfielder Jody Henderson --- to move up and make an immediate impact, too.
“As a catcher I always enjoyed the pitcher-catcher game, but right now I don’t know what our pitching is going to look like,” the coach said. “I’m definitely a more offensive-minded coach. My big push with these girls will be to get some incredibly aggressive baserunning, and some more fiery at-bats from them, too. I think at times last year we were a little too timid.”
Coach Gesky is holding an open informational meeting right after school on Wednesday, October 30, for all girls interested in playing softball. The season officially begins on March 3, 2014.