‘Softball is my passion:’ Rochester names Malchow coach
Former Lady Z star played at Indiana State
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
Four years after graduating from Rochester High School, Becky Malchow has returned home, armed with the experience of playing softball at a Division I level and a four-year education.
And following a family legacy, she’s come back to teach and coach.
Malchow, a 2016 RHS grad, was named the new Lady Z softball coach at a Rochester School Board meeting Monday. She replaces David Musselman, who had coached the team since 2019.
“Softball is my passion,” Malchow said. “So being able to get into softball in any capacity was always a dream, and being able to coach in the same place that you lived, played, experienced your whole growing-up is a really cool opportunity. It will be awesome to coach in the same place that I experienced so many highs and lows.”
A second baseman and All-State player in high school, she played center field at Indiana State. She hit .264 with 30 career RBIs as a Sycamore while majoring in elementary education. She called her Indiana State experience “the best four years ever.”
“As a student, it’s a great place to go to school,” Malchow said. “It’s homey and small, and you don’t have to go too far to get around it. It’s like a mile-and-a-half to get around the whole campus, so that’s super nice.”
Malchow, 23, was also hired to teach first grade at Columbia Elementary School. Her mother Wendy teaches second grade at Columbia down the hall from her.
And her father Rob is a teacher and the boys basketball coach at RHS.
“Honestly people think I’m crazy because they’re like, ‘Both your parents are teachers. Didn’t you want to try something new?’ But no, being in both my parents’ classrooms as I grew up, when I was in elementary school, I got to hang out in my mom’s room and watch her teach and do all those little teacher-y things that kids like to do and help her out – what I thought was helping – and then being in middle school and high school and hanging out with my dad and just seeing that aspect of changing students’ lives and being able to impact them in a way that some people can’t reach them on is the same reason my parents are teachers, just trying to impact students in the most positive way that we can. … I look up to them a lot in the teaching aspect.”
Now in his second stint, Rob Malchow has guided the RHS boys basketball program to five sectional titles. That includes the 2009 team that made the Class 3A state title game and the 2020 team that saw its season end due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Becky saw the dedication it takes to be a successful coach. Also a star player on the 2015 RHS girls basketball team that made it to semistate, she has been immersed in sports.
“Growing up and having a dad as a coach and growing up and being raised by a coach just leads me into a position that I feel that I’m just used to,” Malchow said. “I’m comfortable with it. Having those difficult conversations or just having the conversations about the sport in general is just what I grew up doing. Table talk around the dinner table was sports-related, whether it was ones we were playing or the ones that were being played on TV by the professionals.
“So I think it’s really helpful to just have it in my blood. I run on sports. That’s what drives me most in my life.”
Asked to name some coaches that had an impact on her life, she counted Indiana State coach Mike Perniciaro and former RHS coach Carla Holland.
Perniciaro, referred to as “Coach Pooch” through Terre Haute, taught her that some days kids are not always going to have great days. She said that you have to trust your players when you need them to and that coaches have to be patient. She called Perniciaro “amazing” and said her Sycamore teammates will be life-long friends.
Holland was Malchow’s high school coach. She was teammates at RHS with Holland’s daughters Rylee and Alexa, and she said that coach Holland helped get her into softball when she was a third-grader.
But she said her biggest coaching role model is her father. While many area basketball fans might know Rob Malchow from coaching in front of large crowds on Friday nights throughout the winter, Becky said she knows her father the coach from those one-on-one moments.
“Being able to be coached by him, not necessarily in a head coach role in the school system, but my whole life, he was always there,” Malchow said. “Always supporting me. Showing me patience. Taking me to the ball field, whether it be basketball or softball. He supported me, and we’d sit down at the dinner table after games, and if it was a good game, he’d tell me what I did well, but then he’d say, ‘Hey, here’s where you need to fix things up.’
“For him, my biggest thing I respected was his communication level,” she added. “He’s so good at communicating with me. I’ve seen him communicate with other players. He’s just such a pure, break-it-down, here’s-what-you-need-to-do … and he’s really good at picking people’s highs and their lows. ‘Hey, I’m going to tell you what you did wrong, but they’re not all wrong, so let me also let you know what you did right.’ He’s really good about that, and I respect that about him.”
Malchow said she has not met with her new players yet. She said she knows some of them through her sister Abbie Overmyer, a 2012 RHS grad who also played collegiately at Indiana State and who now gives private hitting and pitching lessons.
Malchow takes over a program with a winning history. RHS won the TRC as recently as 2018 when Holland was coach. The 2020 IHSAA softball season was canceled due to the pandemic.
She said her next task will be to assemble a coaching staff.
But before she does that, her busy week is not over yet: She will marry former RHS football and basketball player Wilson Lee, who proposed to her on the Times Cinema marquee, on Saturday.
IHSAA softball practice begins March 8, 2021.