The Bauxite Lady Miners softball team will have a new face at the helm for the upcoming season. After state championship winning (2018) Coach Sara Tew moved on to coach at Carlisle, former Benton seventh grade volleyball coach Madeleine Rhodes returns to her true love of softball, leading the Lady Miners for the 2020 season.
“Everybody kind of knows that softball is my thing and my love, so when the job got posted, I honestly didn’t see it,” Rhodes said. “A few people told me about it and I went and applied and did the interview process.”
The rest was history, and though this will be Rhodes’ first high school head-coaching position, the 25-year-old has had plenty of experience in the sport she played at Rison High School and then at Central Baptist College in Conway.
“I’ve coached private lessons and done tournament softball for years, but this is my first high school head-coaching job,” she said. “Softball has been my thing forever. I went and played in college for a little bit, and then when I was done with that and teaching, I still wanted to be involved with it. My family is a softball family, so it’s really exciting to be back on the softball side. I love volleyball and basketball, I’m just excited to be back with softball.”
Rhodes also assisted in seventh grade basketball and track at Benton and knows she has some big shoes to fill with Tew’s absence as the Lady Miners went 137-28 the past five seasons, which included the school’s first state championship in 2018 and also a runner-up finish in 2015.
“At Bauxite with the tradition of excellence and the standards there,” Rhodes began, “they already have a great program that Coach (Sara) Tew had already built, so it’s really nice to come in and know there’s already a great program set up and I can help build on to that. I’m really, really excited to be there.
“I’m really thankful to be part of a school that’s going to support this team. They already have a strong program built and a strong system of support for the girls, so I’m really excited to build on to that.”
And Rhodes said the future looks bright for the Lady Miners.
“There’s a lot of young talent that’s already there and for the next few years, just from me coaching in the area with tournament softball, I know the next few years there’s kids coming in every year that love this game,” she said. “With only losing a few seniors and the young talent that is coming in, I expect us to have a really great season. Past that, I believe with the girls at Bauxite that will be coming through the program over the next few years, we will be able to just continue to build and grow the softball program.”
Rhodes isn’t the only Bauxite newbie. Spencer Gay, who went 24-4 for Stuttgart last season, was named Bauxite’s girls basketball coach taking over for Josh Harrison. Tommy Britt takes over the boys soccer team, Tyler Shaw is the new coach for the boys track team, Clark Smith will be at the helm for the cross country team and Russell Johnson will assist with baseball and football.