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The City Journals

CCHS softball begins season with new coach

Apr 06, 2018 11:12AM ● By Catherine Garrett

The Charger softball team exits the dugout to celebrate a home run during the 2017 season. The 2018 version will feature a new coach in Chris Opheikens. (Travis Barton/City Journals)

The Corner Canyon High School softball team finished last season with a 19-9 overall record and a two-win, two-loss showing at the 4A state tournament in May. This year, the Chargers have a new coach, Chris Opheikens, who is hoping to continue to build a program that has made the postseason three of the four years since CCHS opened its doors in 2013.

“We are excited to have Coach Opheikens on board as our new head coach,” CCHS Athletic Director Kenneth Smikahl said. “He is looking to continue the success our program had last year and build for the future by working with the youth that live in Draper. Even though the season hasn’t started yet, he has actively been involved with open gyms and reaching out to other athletes in our school to encourage them to play softball.”

Opheikens said the program is in position to succeed. 

“I feel like we have put great coaches into place to help these girls achieve those goals that they have set,” Opheikens said. “Corner Canyon has a great athletic department as well as administrators that also want to see this program reach new heights. It is really nice to see everyone at Corner Canyon take so much pride in a women’s sport. I am truly lucky to be here.”

Opheikens said he always wanted to be a football coach but got into coaching softball instead more than 10 years ago after his daughter brought home a dance flyer from school. “We somehow discovered on the back of the flyer was girls softball,” Opheikens said. “My daughter decided that softball sounded cooler than dance and the rest is history.”

From there, Opheikens began coaching in the recreation leagues and then was managing up to three teams a year in the accelerated ranks. “I really loved watching my daughters achieve goals and get better and make friends,” Opheikens said. “As my daughters continued, I also had the opportunity to meet and coach a lot of great players which have turned into many great friends.”

Opheikens employs a simple coaching philosophy of working hard, having fun and being a team family. “Putting in the work is critical,” he said. “The girls will only get out what they put in. Our coaches are there to motivate and assist but cannot put the work in for them.”

“The team must trust and support each other on and off the field. When they come to a game and play as a ‘family,’ we believe that they are unbeatable. And lastly, if they work hard and have family, the having fun will follow. It is hard not to have fun when you are with people that you know have worked hard for each other and genuinely enjoy being around each other.”

Opeheikens said he strives to help the athletes he coaches be team players. 

“When softball is over and they are moving on to other things in life, they will remember what it felt like to be part of a family and that will make them more employable and everything,” he said. “I feel like sports are more than just an activity. It teaches us a lot about each individual and how we can help them be better on and off the field.”

Corner Canyon began its 2018 season March 9-10 at a St. George tournament. The Chargers lost to Ridgeline 11-0, Tooele 5-1, Fremont 12-3, Grantsville 7-0 and Box Elder 17-0. 

“We had a bit of a rough weekend,” Opeheikens said. “We lost all five games, but made significant progress in teaching the new girls as well as strengthening the team spirit and camaraderie. We are excited to get better and see how we improve. We just have to remember that this season is a marathon, not a sprint.”

Corner Canyon also lost to Springville 12-6 Mar. 13 and Maple Mountain Mar. 19.

Players on the 2018 squad include senior Quinn Wansel; juniors Abbi Opheikens, Lexi Parker, Broke Meyers, Josee Haycock, Jessica Nemelka, Hannah Knoop and Mia Kunkal; sophomores Whitney Opheikens, Abby Kleinman, Maggie Ramos, Olivia Sunderland, Mckenna Jealy and Emory Smith; and freshman Anna Nemelka, Selma Kohler, Lauren Dupree, Rylee Taylor and Sydney Taylor.

Opheikens will be assisted on the coaching staff by Troy Johnson, Steph Losee and Lyndsay Walker.