FOREST CITY – In 1982 when Waldorf softball coach Wayne Johns ended his nine-year coaching career for the Warriors he went directly from the dugout to the stands. He has occupied a seat among the Warrior and Forest City Indian fans ever since.
While they’re not as young or active as they once were, Wayne and his wife Karen still enjoy cheering for the Indians and Warriors whenever they can.
“We love going to softball,” said Wayne. “But we don’t see as many games as we used to. As long as we know a couple of kids, we like to go.”
You can’t get through a conversation about softball with Johns without talking about Waldorf’s softball history – and without good reason.
Johns, along with Dick Bauer were the first coaches of the Waldorf softball program.
The former chair of the Waldorf math department, Johns is a native of Cleveland who has always followed the Indians and Browns. “It still hurts when they lose,” Johns says with a smile.
In 1973 Johns and Bauer were approached by the Waldorf administration, offering them positions of softball coaches.
“We didn’t get paid for coaching,” said Johns. “We did it for fun.”
As Johns explains it, there were a lot of girls who wanted to play. Some of them were from well-established high school programs. “We had some girls, including an all-stater, from Roland-Story. We also has some good players from South Hamilton.”
During the nine years, the Warriors had two teams advance to national tournaments.
From 1973 to 1982 the Warriors enjoyed some good success for a program that just got going. After the program was on its feet, Johns said he suggested the college get “possibly a woman” to coach the team and make it more of a full-time job rather than a part time job for the math professor.
Esther Moe became the Waldorf softball coach and when she left Marty Pump stepped in.
During his time as a coach, Johns had started paying more attention to high school softball – including the Indians.
“Forest City didn’t really have a really great softball program until Paul Jensen became the coach in 1984,” recalled Johns. “They wound up going to several state tournaments.”
Johns also complimented Denny Gilbertson who for several years coached both the Forest City Indians and Waldorf’s team.
“Denny had a great program at Waldorf and it really worked well for Forest City when he coached both programs.”
Johns said softball has changed but he still feels the passion for the game.
“The coach that Forest City has now, Theresa Schwartz, is very dedicated,” he said.
Johns, who was on the Waldorf staff for 31 years, 27 full-time and four more part-time after he retired, completed his teaching career in 2002.
When asked how many softball games he’s watch since, he grinned and said, “Probably more than I can remember.”