The Lancer

Rita Menke Impacts East Softball

Menke+along+with+current+softball+coach%2C+Natalie+Peters
Menke along with current softball coach, Natalie Peters

Menke along with current softball coach, Natalie Peters

Rita Menke

Rita Menke

Menke along with current softball coach, Natalie Peters

Sydney Bell, Staff Reporter

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“Great” does not define the impact Ms. Rita Menke had on Belleville East because of her talent as a softball coach. Unlike most softball players, Ms. Rita Menke did not start out playing sports in school. She did not play softball in school because her high school did not have competitive sports for girls. After keeping scores for baseball teams in high school and college, she found what would soon become a love of coaching. Without much softball experience, she “generated a love for baseball; and softball was the next best thing.” Once she was hired as a teacher in the fall of 1981, she began her coaching journey in 1982 for the next 24 years. Within those 24 years, Ms. Menke was able to show the state of Illinois just how talented her teams were. The Lancer softball teams won nine regional titles and ten conference titles in the Southwestern Conference. She led her softball teams to state 5 times and they won in 1989, 1995, and 2003; however, her success did not stop there. Ms. Menke has been inducted in the Illinois Softball Hall of Fame, the St. Louis Sports Hall of Fame, and the St. Joseph’s College Hall of Fame.

Ms. Menke credits her accomplishments as being a softball coach by surrounding herself with dedicated assistant coaches. “You must be willing to learn from your the assistant coaches.” Without great coworkers, Ms. Menke doesn’t think she would have been able to lead her team successfully. Her positive impact on the District 201 community allowed for the softball field to be dedicated in her honor. Ms. Menke had no idea that Ms. Natalie Peters and Dr. Dosier were working for over a year on her field dedication. On April 24, 2018, a ceremony was held in honor of Ms. Menke’s dedication. The ceremony left Menke “very humbled, overwhelmed, and emotional.”

Ms. Rita Menke believes that “if you don’t love it, you’re not going to be successful.”

 

Menke was joined by current Lancer Softball Coaching Staff

 

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Rita Menke Impacts East Softball