Softball was such an instrumental part of Erika Trujillo’s life growing up that when her college career ended, she couldn’t walk away from the sport.
First, she climbed the ladder from Dakota Ridge standout to Northern Colorado, then onto Coastal Carolina, where she helped the Chanticleers earn an NCAA Tournament appearance while she was an outfielder there.
Now, Trujillo is climbing the coaching ladder.
She spent last season at as the head coach at Class 3A Peak to Peak after one season as an assistant for the Pumas, but her softball acumen made her an immediate candidate for larger jobs. She made her return to the 5A classification this week, when she was introduced as the next head coach at Monarch.
“For me, it’s extremely exciting to be with a group of people and students who are all in support of the program,” Trujillo said. “There’s so much community outreach through the Monarch softball program that it’s a great foundation to start going upward.”
The Coyotes definitely need the upward trend. They are coming off a 2-17 season and their highest victory total over the past five seasons is eight. Granted, it’s unlikely the Coyotes will immediately morph into one of the state’s elite, but Monarch athletic director Lani Nobles is convinced she has the ideal coach to turn things around.
“What hit me and the rest of the committee was just her passion,” Nobles said. “She was so prepared and just very passionate about softball as her life. She didn’t care about the money or anything like that, she just wanted to give back because she is where she is today because of softball.”
Trujillo, who replaced Sara Tani, was part of a Dakota Ridge team that regularly advanced to the deep rounds of the 5A state tournament, including a state championship in 2001. She guided an extremely raw Peak to Peak team — some who had never played softball — to a 7-13 record and playoff berth last fall.
She was patient with her young group, often assigning homework that included videos to help drive home the fundamentals of softball.
“She came in with a huge notebook that had practice schedules, plays and all her secret bunt plays — and I promised I wouldn’t let anyone have them,” Nobles said with a laugh. “She’s going to be great. She’s excited and I think that’s what we really need.”
Nobles spearheaded a campaign to get the softball field into better shape after she arrived at Monarch two seasons ago, and that effort has been realized. Now Trujillo has her canvas and can start painting her picture.
“There’s a lot of work to be done, a lot of groundwork to be set,” Trujillo said. “But I think with the booster clubs, Lani, the players and the parents that are already there, the only way is up. It’s a lot of work, but it’s definitely going to pay off and it’s going to pay off quickly.”
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