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Jacobson returns home to coach BEA softball program

RETURNING HOME — Blue Earth Area head softball coach Rachel Jacobson (burgandy jacket) chats with Buc infielders Miya Gustafson (far left), Clara Ziegler (13), Taylor Klabunde (14), Kylee Eckmann, McKenna Dutton (2) and Berkley Hagedorn (far right) during recent softball action in Blue Earth. Jacobson returns to the program as a first-year coach after earning numerous accolades as a player for the Bucs during her high school career. (Photo by Kyle McAreavy)

BLUE EARTH — The Bucs players, split into two teams — one at second base and one at third — take ground balls and try to knock a helmet off a ball bucket set on home plate. If they knock the helmet to the ground, their team earns a point and the losing team has extra running at the end of practice.

The game is one of the drills former Blue Earth Area pitching standout and new Bucs’ head softball coach Rachel (Green) Jacobson has incorporated this season.

“That’s what I like to do in practice,” Jacobson said. “I like to try to do a fun game or drill that the girls can really try to be competitive in … We’ve been struggling on hard grounders, so I wanted to hit the ball to them this time. It’s really good to get them to focus on their fielding and also making sure they have accurate throws to where they want to go.”

Jacobson is in her first season as the Bucs’ head coach and is looking to bring the program to a level of success it hasn’t had since she graduated from BEA in 2007.

As a player, Jacobson was named to the Minnesota all-state second team in 2007 and played in the All-State series.

“It was really fun, definitely a great experience, but it was really nerve wracking,” Jacobson said. “We got to meet a lot of great girls and great coaches.”

Jacobson said she also went to four national tournaments in summer ball and hopes to bring that experience of success to the Bucs.

As a former pitcher, Jacobson said one of her main goals is to raise of level of the Bucs’ pitching and defense.

“When I used to play, our scores would be like 2-1 or 1-0,” Jacobson said. “I’m hoping to get it down to five and under.

“Pitching and defense, we’ve had to do some defensive focus stuff and really teach the girls if you do fumble the ball or drop it or whatever, just stick with it and try to get that next out. A lot of times, they’ll drop it and then they’re done. That’s where the intensity comes back into play.”

Jacobson said intensity is one of the main things she focuses on as a coach. She said keeping the players fired up and in the game are major focuses for her as a coach. Although that doesn’t mean she wants to spend time yelling at players to keep them involved.

“I want to be (a coach) that the girls can count on, they can come to me and they can learn from me,” Jacobson said. “I don’t like to yell too much at the girls, that gets them down quite a bit. So I try to teach them to shake it off and go onto the next play. You know, try to keep their spirits up. I want to try to get them to be competitive and, like I said, I try to be intense.”

Jacobson takes on the job with a handful of years of experience as a coach. She spent three years coaching 10U and 12U, which she said she started so she could coach her daughter, then was going to coach the BEA middle school team last year before the season was shut down for COVID-19.

Jacobson said her love of both softball and BEA was why she wanted to take on the challenge of the varsity job.

“I love the sport,” Jacobson said. “It’s great to see all the girls succeed. I did coach some of these ninth-graders when they were younger as well. I’d like to hopefully turn this program around. It’s gonna take a while, but I’m hoping to accomplish that.”

Jacobson said one of the major aspects of a consistently successful program is just having a consistent coach, and she is hoping to take that spot with the Bucs.

But taking over a program that hasn’t had a winning season in 14 years means going back to the basics, Jacobson said.

“I really believe in the fundamentals,” Jacobson said. “It’s the base of the game. If the girls don’t have those fundamentals, then we’re gonna have to build those up to be able to get to the next level.”

Alongside Jacobson, assistant coach and sister Sarah Green will help turn the program around. Jacobson credited Sarah Green and their father Tom Green for the love of softball that has brought her to where she is today.

“Sarah wanted to start playing and she was younger than I was, you know, the younger sister that wanted to do whatever you’re doing,” Jacobson said. “So we just played in the backyard quite a bit with my dad and then we were hooked.”

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