In a collegiate softball coaching career that has spanned 15 years, one season in particular made a major impact on Jill Karwoski.
In 2012 and 2013, Karwoski served as a volunteer coach at NCAA Division I Providence College in Rhode Island.
At the time, she was seeking a full-time coaching job, but the opportunities weren’t coming.
“It was obviously a humbling experience,” said Karwoski, a Cary-Grove graduate. “You apply for numerous jobs, and you’re getting interviews, but you’re not getting the job offers.”
While at Providence, she also worked as a waitress and in real estate to continue chasing her dream.
“It’s a testament to perseverance,” she said. “When you have a passion for something, you want to keep that dream alive. You’ll do just about anything to keep it alive. That’s where I was at during that time.”
On Monday, Karwoski got an opportunity to return to Providence, this time as the Friars’ head coach.
“Having been part of the program, even just for one year, got me acclimated to their culture and the pride they have in their [athletic] department,” she said. “That never left me.”
Karwoski returns after spending the past five seasons as the head coach at Quinnipiac University in Connecticut.
Over the past three seasons, Karwoski’s teams have won 73 games, which is the second-winningest three-year span in school history. Her 2016 team, which finished 28-29, tied for the second-most single-season wins at Quinnipiac.
“I’ll miss that journey we had and the culture we built,” she said. “I know I’m leaving that Quinnipiac program in a good place.”
She returns to a Providence team that has not had a winning season since 2006 and has qualified for the Big East Conference postseason tournament five times in the past 13 seasons.
“Coaching is about timing and opportunity,” Karwoski said. “The timing was right for this job, and it’s certainly a great opportunity. When the opportunity arose, I wanted to jump at it.”
Along with her experience in the Big East, Karwoski was the associate head coach and recruiting coordinator at Boston College of the Atlantic Coast Conference from 2007 to 2011.
“She has 10 years of head coaching experience and has recruited at the highest level in the ACC,” Providence Athletics Director Bob Driscoll said in a statement. “We believe we have one of the top facilities in the conference, and with Jill’s leadership we can become one of the top programs in the Northeast and compete for the Big East title.”
Karwoski spent time the past week calling her new players and hitting the recruiting trail.
“I’m interested in hearing about their expectations and their goals and what they want to achieve,” Karwoski said. “All of their ideas mean a lot to me. It’s exciting. I’m anxious to get started.”
Kaska off to perfect start: Richmond-Burton grad Mike Kaska, who recently completed his junior baseball season at D-III Wisconsin-Whitewater, is 4-0 this summer for the Lombard Orioles.
Kaska has won all four of his starts for the Orioles – a dual member of the Wisconsin State League and the Chicago Suburban Baseball League – and has posted a 1.71 ERA. In 21 innings this summer, Kaska has struck out 22 batters and walked only three.
Lombard leads the CSBL with a 12-0 record.
Hot-hitting Mascarella: Catcher Wyatt Mascarella (Cary-Grove) is the second-leading hitter this summer for the Rockford Rivets summer collegiate baseball team of the Northwoods League.
Mascarella, who helped D-I St. John’s make the NCAA tournament as a junior this spring, is batting .333 for the Rivets.
Burgard shines at Purdue Northwest: Freshman pitcher Samantha Burgard (Crystal Lake South) had a solid freshman softball season at D-II Purdue University Northwest in Indiana.
Burgard (8-9) led the team in eight pitching categories, including wins, ERA (3.56), complete games (11) and strikeouts (56).
She posted four victories in March, when the Pride (26-26) won 13 games.
Burgard had a season-high nine strikeouts and allowed only six hits April 29 in a 3-0, complete-game shutout of Ferris State.
Augie’s most improved: Woodstock North grad Bradley Kohler was named D-III Augustana College’s Most Improved Freshman for the outdoor track and field season.
Kohler’s best performance in the 100-meter dash of 11.5 seconds took place at North Central’s Dr. Keeler Meet in May. His best 200 dash time of 22.88 happened at the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin outdoor championships in May, earning him 14th place in the event.
• Barry Bottino writes a weekly column about local college athletes for the Northwest Herald. Write to him at email@example.com and follow @BarryOnCampus on Twitter.