“Bubbly,” “positive,” and “inspiring” are words DePaul’s women’s softball team volunteered to characterized Lynsey Ciezki, their beloved assistant coach, who is now on her second season with the team.
Veteran pitcher Kennedy Garcia, who is a senior and one of the club’s more vocal leaders, actually went as far as to say that Ciezki’s optimism is infectious throughout their entire clubhouse.
“We all love Ciezki because she brings so much positive energy, I literally always call her a ray of sunshine. She kind of balances everything out, and if you’re having a bad day, she’s always there to pick you up,” Garcia highlighted.
Ciezki is no stranger to DePaul’s storied reputation as a women’s softball superpower, having starred for the Blue Demons from 2009-2012 as a player. During that period, Ciezki not only helped the program qualify for the NCAA tournament every year, she also earned BIG EAST Championship All-Tournament team member selections in both 2011 and 2012.
And according to head coach Eugene Lenti, it was Ciezki’s work ethic and versatility on the field that made her so valuable to his roster nearly a decade ago, but also as a member of his staff since she returned in 2017.
“I always said when I had her as a player that if I had 10 of her, I’d be the happiest guy around because she was just a great team player. She could play anywhere and was very versatile, and as a coach she just keeps getting better every day. She works at her craft, and the girls love her,” said Leinti, in praise of his former player.
In fact, when Lenti’s Blue Demons played Nebraska this past March, he noted that Hall of Fame coach Rhonda Revelle made it her priority to compliment Ciezki’s work with DePaul’s infielders, whose strong defensive play contributed immensely to a 1-0 victory.
“She’s a great infield coach. As a matter of fact, the head coach of Nebraska [Rhonda Revelle] came up to her when we were at Cal State Fullerton, and complimented her on how our infielders played and how she worked them out before the game,” Lenti offered.
But Lenti isn’t surprised in the slightest that his student is now having success as the teacher, “You could kind of see that she had it in her back then, even as a player,” said Lenti, who has been at DePaul for almost four decades now.
While Lenti and DePaul’s players only have positive things to say about Ciezki involvement on the coaching side of things, she acknowledges that those feelings expressed by members of the team are mutual.
“Oh man, I think it’s awesome. I love it. When I played here, I had a great four years, everyone is like family to me,” said the 27-year-old assistant coach.
When her playing days were up at DePaul, she admitted that she needed to adjust her mindset. All she knew was playing, and when her four years on the field were over with, the prospect of reinventing herself seemed daunting.
“After my last game here, it was hard. I’ve been an athlete my whole life and not playing a sport, it was a different process. Coming back to coach I feel like I am playing. Sometimes during practices I jump in with them.”
However, her outlook has evolved, and she now appreciates the game of softball from an entirely different vantage point, “Actually, it’s now more fun for me to see someone succeed after we work on something than it is playing in the game. Evolving as a coach has been awesome because you just want to see the smiles on their faces,” she added.
For Ciezki, the biggest difference she has noticed between playing and coaching, is that she now thinks the game a lot more than she ever did when she was in the lineup herself.
“You see a whole different side of the game. It’s more about keeping the kids upbeat, it’s more mental. After the games I’m exhausted just because I’m thinking of everything. When I was a player I would just react to it and play,” she explained.
Even though Ciezki often wishes she was still playing, she acknowledges that being offered the chance to coach alongside Eugene Lenti at her alma mater is an opportunity that she is still so grateful to have. She remembers the day she received a formal offer from coach Lenti as being surreal for her.
“I’ve always wanted to be a college coach, but I never knew it would be back at DePaul, so when Eugene called me that one day, it was over the summer and I was in Colorado. It was a little shocking, but it was awesome; I called everyone I knew, I was so excited about it,” Ciezki recounted.
Someone else who was ecstatic when Ciezki was brought in last season as an assistant coach, is current sophomore Angela Scalzitti, who has gracefully patrolled the Blue Demons outfield all season.
“She’s the nicest person I think you’ll ever meet on this planet. Sometimes practice can get really monotonous, but she finds fun ways for us to practice with each and every drill. It’s hard not to be happy when you’re around her,” expressed Scalzitti.
Prior to DePaul, Ciezky coached Scalzitti on a travel team where they developed a close working relationship that is still flourishing today.
“I did coach Angela Scalzitti before I came here, so I have a prior relationship, I coached her during travel ball, she’s been a slap [hitter] her whole life. This last game she got a grand slam, it was her first one, it was cool to see her run around the bases. I actually teared up,” Ciezky conceded.
Throughout Eugene Lenti’s prolific tenure at the help of DePaul’s softball program, he recognizes that his success as a head coach is firmly correlated to the incredible athletes he’s been able to recruit and work with. But he also credits the influence of having many astute coaching minds on his staff over the years.
“I’ve been very fortunate to have a lot of good assistant coaches, so she’s another one on a long list of great assistant coaches we’ve had here at DePaul. But when you do have assistant coaches like Lynsey, you know that you can rely on them to get things done the way that you want them to.”