While many outside observers might wonder what the future holds for Truman High School’s softball team without Oklahoma-bound pitching and hitting wonder Paige Parker, the team’s new head coach can provide some perspective.
Mandee Berg, who was named this week as the replacement for Amy Temples – who resigned in the spring after three seasons at the helm – has been the Patriots’ junior varsity coach the past five seasons.
“I think that because I started coaching before Paige came, I have a realistic look at the program and the talent it normally gets,” Berg said. “We were fortunate with Paige and Maya (Coen) and others, but we have a lot of girls that want to be that leader like them – girls like (Brooke) VunCannon and Shay Tolbert.”
Berg believes her familiarity with the players should ease the program’s transition to a new head coach.
“There’s only a few that skipped JV (and went straight to varsity),” she said. “I think it’s a relief for them, to have someone on the coaching staff that knows them.
“I have the time to put into it, building the program with camps. It’s a good fit, because I’ve been involved in softball outside of high school.”
Though she isn’t married and doesn’t have children, Berg said it took a couple weeks after Temples’ resignation in May to figure out if she would have the time to be head coach, since she is not on a regular teacher’s schedule.
Berg has worked in the Independence School District for 19 years and currently is a family school liaison at Sycamore Hills and Spring Branch elementary schools.
“I had to discuss it with my supervisors, and they back it,” said Berg, a Blue Springs High School graduate who received her bachelor’s degeree in social work from the University of Central Missouri.
As a pitcher for the Jennies at UCM, Berg was named Freshman of the Year and league MVP and was a three-time All-America selection during her career. UCM had three conference championships, three regional appearances and a national fourth-place finish with Berg in the circle. She was a head coach for one season at Maple Woods Community College after college and has been a private pitching coach in the area for several years.
Under Temples, the Patriots went 81-15 and captured four conference titles, won a state championship in 2012 and were state quarterfinalists last year. Temples had been an assistant for Steve Broughton, who guided Truman to a state runner-up finish in 2010.
Truman activities director Eric Holm said replacing Temples is a tall order, but he believes the program has a tremendous successor in Berg.
“We hated to lose Amy as a coach but understand her family commitments,” Holm said in a statement. “(Mandee) has been in the system, knows the girls, is a patient and dedicated coach and a committed educator. She has a wealth of knowledge about softball, and student-athletes at Truman will be benefit on and off the field through their association with Coach Berg.”