Through her coaching career, Kim Kiser had the opportunity to coach under some veteran head coaches and soaked in the necessary knowledge to lead a program to newer heights.
Kiser previously led varsity teams at Camas and Hockinson High School and served as a defensive specialist on the Western Oregon University staff, so her experience will be huge benefit as she takes over the head coaching duties of the softball program at The Dalles High School.
“I am truly excited to be coaching such a talented group of young women,” Kiser said. “I am enthusiastic about the possibilities of this team and am very thankful for the many coaches out there who have coached these young girls to help them become the softball players they are. If it weren’t for the coaches in their traveling or local teams, this program would not be as strong as it could potentially be.”
Kiser, a 1987 graduate, attended Wahtonka High School and played basketball, volleyball and tennis.
Since Wahtonka did not field a fast-pitch softball squad, Kiser participated with The Dalles during the summer, but was unable to go across schools to play for TDHS.
In college, Kiser received a full-ride scholarship to play volleyball, basketball and tennis at Lane Community College.
From there, a few years later, she accepted a basketball and softball scholarship at Concordia University, the school’s second year offering softball, where she was the starting catcher and occasional starting pitcher.
While teaching and coaching in Roseburg, Kiser graduated Western Oregon University with a teaching degree, she received a Master’s in Education degree in curriculum development, mathematics and administration.
With her educational pedigree, Kiser is using her coaching platform to emphasize scholastic success, not just athletic achievements, when fielding her varsity squad.
To Kiser, the term student-athlete means that her players are students first, athletes second.
An athlete who isn’t struggling in the classroom tends to be focused, responsible, hardworking, organized, never make excuses for themselves, is a helpful student and willing to go above and beyond.
“Those student characteristics are the same characteristics that make a great athlete,” Kiser said. “Great students are willing to reach out beyond themselves to help others, just like on the field, always willing to pick up their teammates when they struggle. Good students tend to focus on what needs to be accomplished, same as on the field. Being a good student allows the athlete to focus on the sport and this helps the team focus on the game.”
Kiser takes over for Steve Garrett, who retired last June after 13 years at the helm.
Garrett won Coach of the Year awards, league titles, clinched a playoff berth in all but one season, helped lead his teams to 20 wins or more six times and posted a 232-130 record for a .640 winning percentage.
Although starting new will bring its share of challenges, Kiser isn’t focused on erasing history, but rather building on the success attained over the years.
“Getting the head coaching position after Garrett is an honor,” Kiser said. “To be able to step into this position after a legacy he built, is really just exciting and not really scary. What he has done here can nowhere be replicated and I wouldn’t really want to try to replicate that. He has deserved all his honors and success.”
Last season, The Dalles softball team posted a 3-22 record and finished 2-10 in league matchups for last place in the Columbia River Conference standings.
The team lost four seniors, but returns all-state centerfielder Kathryn Bradford, all-league winners, Bailey LeBreton, Kilee Hoylman and Jessika Nañez, along with sluggers Emma Weir and Lauryn Belanger.
From all accounts, every player is excited for the future, especially after last season’s tough results, so the mantra is about the players finding their groove again.
“I’m definitely motivated to start the season, but it can’t just start with me,” Belanger said. “When the team gets together, we all have to be motivated to win. We need to do this together or nothing will go our way. With the people we have this year, I feel like we can definitely achieve great things together.”
Along with focusing on the little things in practice, Kiser and assistant coaches Katherine Kramer and Meghan Rowland have a three-pronged approach of sportsmanship, aggressive defense and emphasis on the short game as to what fans will see on game days this spring.
Kiser called sportsmanship the biggest aspect because it talks about character of the person, team, and coach.
Players in the program need to learn to win with dignity and lose with dignity.
They must overcome themselves before they can overcome any of their opponents.
“On the field, we will build a defense first and our pitchers around the defense. Only then will our pitchers will be most effective on the field,” Kiser said.
Last season, the Lady Riverhawk offense put up 119 runs in 25 contests, a number far below the gaudy stats the program had relied on in the past.
Kiser likes to bunt, steal, and wants to take advantage of any chances created by the opposition’s defensive miscues.
“On offense, softball is not just a power-hitting game, it’s about strategy,” Kiser said. “To win, we will need to manifest runs. In order to do that, we will need the opposing defense to make a play, which means we need to be putting the ball in play. The more times we put the ball in play, the more opportunities for errors and for us to score. We want to make the other team think about what we are going to do. Put them on defense all the time.”
Kiser is excited about coaching back in her hometown and taking on a program she has grown up with and watched over the years, adding that the community is always the best support for all of TD’s athletic and non-athletic programs.
Most of all, she has her family around.
“My dad is a big fan, so he will be at all my home games,” Kiser said. “My son was the reason I went back to coaching. He told me that he knew I missed it and now that we are closer to grandma, I should coach again. My families’ support is phenomenal and their confidence in me as a teacher, coach and mom is truly a blessing.”