Such is the case for Lauren (Hilliard) Limburg who plans to use what she learned from her grandfather in her first high school head coaching position.
“I’ve had some great coaches throughout my lifetime but watching the impact my grandfather had on his players is what caused me to dream of being a coach from a very young age,” stated the new head coach of the Walker Valley softball program.
Her grandfather — Bradley Central coaching legend Bill Walker.
Walker coached the Bear basketball program from 1956-69, including the state championship team of 1962 and a 1966 state tournament appearance.
“I have always looked up to him and the positive influence he had on so many lives,” Limburg expressed. “Through coaching, it is my goal to be a positive, Christian influence on my players.”
After a standout athletic career at Bradley Central, Limburg was a three-year starter on the Lee University softball team, including a pair of NAIA World Series appearances. The Lady Flames set a school record with 55 wins her senior season when they finished seventh in the national event.
Having served the past four years as an assistant coach under Chris Doan at Walker Valley, Limburg is excited about the opportunity to take over such a successful program.
“I wish the season could start today,” she proclaimed. “I appreciate what Coach Doan has done for me and I’m extremely thankful. He has built this program into one of the best around and I want to continue the winning tradition he’s established.”
“Lauren loves the sport and has been a big part of our program’s success and now she will have the opportunity to add her own personality to the team and hopefully take them to an even higher level,” expressed Coach Doan. The only coach the Lady Mustangs have had since the school opened nine years ago, Doan is stepping aside to spend more time with his family.
“The girls know her and have confidence in her. She’ll have a lot of support and has some good players to build on,” he added.
“We graduated four very special young ladies (Courtney Gobble, Sarah Goza, Sara and Sam Spain) but we have a good nucleus coming back plus some good young players coming up from the middle school,” declared Limburg, who coached the Ocoee Middle School team this past fall.
“We have six of nine starters returning, including our whole outfield and our two top pitchers,” she explained.. “It is a big challenge to take over such a successful program but I’m very optimistic we can continue to wear the Blue and Gold with pride.”
“From the beginning of my coming here, my goal for Walker Valley softball has been to reach the state tournament,” Limburg added. “We will work hard, pay attention to the little things and know at the end of every game that we left everything on the field.”
“I want our girls to realize hard work and dedication do pay off. The only way you get better is to compete against good teams, which we have some of the best in our district.”
Limburg first came to Walker Valley as a student teacher while still at Lee and said she “Fell in love with the place when she stepped through the door.”
“Coach Doan called me the winter before I was coming to do my student teaching and asked if I would help with the softball team that year and I’ve been here ever since,” she explained. “I’ve talked with the girls and explained to them that I am going to be in a different role as head coach than I was as an assistant.”
“The girls are comfortable with me already and I’ve asked April (Richards) to stay on as an assistant if she is able to secure a teaching job in the county,” Limburg related.
A three-sport player herself in high school, Limburg is familiar with the challenges many of her players are faced with as they go from volleyball/soccer season to basketball and then to softball. “That just shows what good athletes we have playing for us,” she said.
“I’ve had such great support from my parents (Jan and Garland Hilliard) and my husband (Corey Limburg) throughout the years it has allowed me to compete and enjoy sports since I was young and I hope to continue coaching for many years,” remarked the 2002 BCHS salutatorian. Her husband is the physical education teacher at Valley View Elementary school and coach of the Ocoee Middle School golf team.
“I love my job. I love coming to work every day. God has truly blessed me throughout my life,” proclaimed the math teacher in WVHS’s Freshman Academy. “I look back at my life’s experiences and see how God has molded and shaped me into who I am today. I hope to have a positive influence on my players not only on the field but in life as well just as many of my coaches did for me.”
“I am looking forward to working with the girls to make memories that will last a lifetime,” she concluded.