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Bruckner at home with Mount Marty softball team

Coaching college softball was not in Tate Bruckner's plans, but he is fine with that. The Menno graduate grew up with aspirations of being a football coach and played baseball for Mount Marty College. After graduating with an exercise science deg...

Menno graduate and Mount Marty College softball coach Tate Bruckner, right, talks to his team during a game against Dakota Wesleyan University on Thursday at McWhirter Field. (Ryan Deal/Republic)
Menno graduate and Mount Marty College softball coach Tate Bruckner, right, talks to his team during a game against Dakota Wesleyan University on Thursday at McWhirter Field. (Ryan Deal/Republic)

Coaching college softball was not in Tate Bruckner's plans, but he is fine with that.

The Menno graduate grew up with aspirations of being a football coach and played baseball for Mount Marty College. After graduating with an exercise science degree in 2014, he worked as a strength and conditioning coach for the Lancers.

But he stepped away from coaching for a period and worked full-time as a financial advisor before coaching called again.

After juggling an interim coaching job with the Lancers' softball team and his desk job, Bruckner took advantage of the chance to be Mount Marty's head coach. He took the job in January, now settling in as a first-year leader.

"I made the best decision I have ever made," Bruckner said. "It is kind of cool waking up everyday knowing that my full-time job is coaching. Not everyone can say that. Especially at the college level. Especially at my age."

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At 26 years old, Bruckner is the youngest softball coach in the Great Plains Athletic Conference. Bruckner feels fortunate to have gotten the opportunity after not going through the traditional path of being a graduate assistant and years of being an assistant.

"I was fortunate to get the job really early in my career," Bruckner said. "I just have to make the most of it because a lot of people go through life just being assistants their whole life and never really moving up or getting the opportunity to do so."

He received the opportunity after former softball coach Albert Fernandez stepped down due to health issues. Bruckner had been an assistant coach for the MMC baseball team for two seasons before taking the interim softball job last fall.

"It turned out I actually enjoyed coaching softball," Bruckner said. "There was a great group of girls and so after that I decided to apply for the job and fortunately I got it."

Coaching softball has been both a challenge and a reward, he said.

"I like the competitiveness of it and everyday trying to turn a program around," he said. "Every day is a challenge. Every day is an opportunity to learn something for me personally-I guess-with the difference between softball and baseball. Every day is something new and brings something different to the table."

He's learning on the fly the ins and outs of the position, including the rigors of recruiting.

"A lot of ups and downs," Bruckner said. "You will think you have a kid and then you don't. A kid you don't think you are going to get, you get. It is kind of a rollercoaster, but it is something really enjoyable."

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The season has also been a rollercoaster for the Lancers. Entering Thursday's doubleheader with Dakota Wesleyan, Mount Marty was 7-13 overall and 1-5 in the GPAC, but he praised the team's effort this season.

"We have been playing some good softball," he said. "We have been in pretty much every game. I want our girls to compete and I think that is what they have been doing for the most part. I am coaching a group that makes the transition for me a lot easier."

And as for the future, Bruckner foresees coaching college softball in his plans.

"I really like Mount Marty and I like who I get to work with," he said. "I like the community of Yankton a lot. So I don't see me going anywhere for a while."

Related Topics: COLLEGE SOFTBALL
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