In the late fall of 2017, Western Illinois announced a head coaching change. Longtime head coach Holly Van Vlymen would be moving into an administrative role in the athletic department and program alum and assistant coach Beth Golitko would be named the interim head coach.
Golitko would carry the interim tag into and through the 2018 season, and the process of the changing of the guard was one that she says definitely had an effect on her team.
“It was a good year for us,” Golitko said. “I thought we did a good job dealing with adversity this year, with the coaching change and my being appointed interim in December and the whole changeover. I thought they handled it really well, and we had a lot to push through and we did. Most importantly for us was our message to finish like we start, be consistent, and they did that pretty well.”
The Leathernecks finished the season 17-31, with a 9-6 mark in Summit League play. “We had some back-and-forth times during our non-conference part of the season, but we really hit our stride in conference play,” said Golitko. “So another one of our big takeaways was again starting and finishing in the same fashion. Striving on and pushing through and making good things happen.”
Golitko has spent the entirety of her coaching career at Western Illinois, minus a brief stint on staff at Cleveland State, and is also well-versed with the program’s traditions as a four-year letter-winner and Leatherneck alum.
“I think the familiarity definitely helped [with the transition],” added Golitko. “I’ve been here pretty much since the fall of 2007, and I think that really helped. I know what it’s like to be a student-athlete here and the experience that I had, and I want to help them have the same phenomenal experience that I did at WIU.”
Looking forward to the 2019 season, Golitko said she saw a lot from her team last season that she and her staff will use as ‘building blocks’ for the season ahead: “I think our biggest thing is that we have a really great pitching staff,” she said. “We lost one, so I’ve got four pitchers coming back. I think that’s really going to help us… we lost some pretty good hitters and fielders, too, but what we brought in in our 2018 class is just as strong. Building off of our pitching and growing our hitters are both things I think we can look at. I think this will be a season to remember for sure.”
”My coaching style is really a mix,” Golitko added. “I like to think of the process, so it’s always a day-by-day. What are we doing to get ready for the next day, to get better? We have goals as a team, based on different factors. Winning the league, other performance goals, but I try to steer away from that in practice and focus on the little things, because getting better at little things are going to help us with the bigger things.”
Western Illinois begins the 2019 season on February 8th against IUPUI in Rosemont, Illinois.