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DII Path Takes Coley Ries To Athletes Unlimited

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(Photo by Jade Hewitt via Athletes Unlimited)

Coley Ries is a part of softball lore in Minnesota. Ries, who won a national title with Minnesota State in 2017 and was named the NFCA Division II Player of the Year, currently plays with Athletes Unlimited in the league's inaugural season.

Ries also recently accepted the head softball coaching position at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minn. She is one of only two Division II athletes in Athletes Unlimited’s softball league, with the other being Morgan Foley from the University of Indianapolis.

Learn more about Ries below.

Softball America: How did your love for softball begin?

Coley Ries: My older cousin, who is about 10 years older than me, played softball and I wanted to be just like her. She was my idol and ended up playing in the same youth league as I did and ended up playing for Princeton. My dad played slow pitch as well and I was around the fields a lot and that’s how I was introduced to the game. I loved it the second I stepped onto the field.

SA: What drew you to Minnesota State for college?

CR: That was my hometown college. I had always gone to basketball camps there and had followed all the sports teams. We had season tickets and I followed them closely growing up. What ultimately made me decide to be a Maverick is I wanted to represent my hometown and have my family come to my games. It didn’t feel right going to a school where they might not have been able to see me play. They were a big part of me getting there.

SA: What was it like to win a national championship at Minnesota State?

CR: It was truly a dream come true. Looking back on it, I still can’t believe it really happened. I’m so appreciative of my teammates and my support system for helping me get there. Our coaches had been to the national tournament, and my goal for my entire career was to get them back to the promised land. It was at the forefront of my mind to try and get that for them.

SA: How has your time with Athletes Unlimited been so far?

CR: It’s been absolutely incredible. They treat us like true professionals. I think a lot of people didn’t know what we would be getting into. It’s different than anything we’ve ever been a part of.

What everyone is starting to notice is that team points are so much more important than the individual points. People were nervous that the individual point system would be weird, but it’s still a team focus. People rally around one another more than I’ve ever seen in softball. It’s incredible how close teams have been able to get within a few days. You get to connect with your new teammates in a really short amount of time.

SA: What are some of your goals as the head softball coach at Gustavus Adolphus?

CR: My biggest goal is to help my student-athletes have the best four years of their life. Playing college softball was some of the best years of my life, and I want them to have the same level of joy I did. I think it’s important for a strong, independent female to help them. I feel really lucky to help them through college and whatever direction they want to go through in life. I would love to get a national title and let the athletes experience the pure joy of hoisting that trophy with your best friends.

SA: What is your best piece of advice for softball players who are going through the recruiting process?

CR: I think it’s important for people to give every division a shot. I don’t think I would have had the opportunities to accomplish what I did if I had gone D1. I think every player should go to the school that’s best for their development. Some players that are on the fence of deciding between two different divisions might get buried on the bench and not be able to experience things they could have if they had gone somewhere better for their personal development.

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