The Rock Valley College softball program will be going after it’s sixth straight NJCAA Division III national championship this week. The players come and go, but the one constant remains head coach Darin Monroe. He is the key to the program’s rise to greatness.
It was 2012 when Monroe took over as head coach at RVC. At that point Rock Valley College softball was just another program, but Monroe saw great potential for the program.
“I just knew when you step on this campus this was a place that could be really special,”said Monroe. “Did I think that we’d be able to have the succes that we’ve had here in the last eight years? I think I’d be far-fetched to say, ‘Yes’, but we’re proud of what we built.”
What Monroe saw at RVC were excellent facilities and a school right in the heart of some great high school softball territory. He just needed to harvest that talent.
“I would say that 90 percent of the players that have come through the Stateline here in the last eight years have chosen Rock Valley,” said Monroe. “That’s something that we’re very proud of. We want to build this thing with home-grown kids. We want to continue to build this thing with home-grown kids.”
“I love the culture he builds around the team,” said RVC freshman and Harlem graduate MacKenzie Lawrence. “I love that he pushes us to be our best and just doesn’t let up.”
When Monroe was an athlete in high school in Iowa he ran cross country and track and he went to State. He was a district qualifier in wrestling and he was an all-conference catcher in baseball. He knew even then that he wanted to be a coach.
“I didn’t know what sport at that time I wanted to coach. My grandpa coached for 35 years of baseball and that was my blood.”
It was in college at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa that Monroe fell in love with softball.
“I was playing in modified fastpitch and I just fell in love with the game. I’ve never turned back and I’ve never loved the sport more than I do now.”
There’s only one problem with having a softball program that has won five straight national championships. There’s no place to go but down. But Monroe enjoys the challenge of trying to stay on top especially when everyone else is shooting for them.
“Our focus every year is just continuing the trend of what we’ve done,” said Monroe. “Our message here this week is just go play softball. If it’s meant to be it’s meant to be.”
Monroe also has two excellent assistant coaches helping him out D.J. Johnson and Vivi Marquez.
RVC begins National Tournament action Thursday in Rochester, Minnesota.