April 9, the head coach for the William Jewell College softball team, Dustin Combs, won his 300th career game. This historic win, an 8-5 victory over Drury University, is a landmark in Combs’ near 20-year-long career.
Combs began his career in 1998 in the Springfield Public School System. As he was coaching baseball at Glendale High School, he launched the school’s softball program in 2000 as the team’s first head coach.
In 2006, he was hired as the head coach for the Jewell Cardinals’ softball team. Over the past three summers, he has coached in the National Pro Fastpitch (NPF), which is softball’s equivalent of the MLB.
“I can honestly say that some of the highlights of my career are seeing our young women graduate and having even more success in their adult lives,” Combs said. “Seeing them start careers, get married and start families is really special.”
Naturally, even the most illustrious careers will have their disappointments.
“In this profession you’re definitely going to have disappointing or challenging moments,” Combs said. “The one that probably was hardest to deal with was when for the first time in my career at Jewell we didn’t qualify for the postseason conference tournament in 2015, but we continued to expect to be there, and in 2016, a year with so many injuries and challenges, we made it back to the [Great Lakes Valley Conference] tournament.”
As well as postseason victories, Combs can now add 300 career wins to his list of accomplishments. Yet, he did not describe that specific win differently than any other game.
“To be honest every win is special,” Combs said. “In our program we talk so much about winning in life. So even though we’re playing a ‘game’, winning is something that we want our girls to strive for in everything they do. But as far as winning the 300th, it is definitely a milestone for Jewell softball and so many alumni and current players [to] have contributed to.”
His coaching advice is to strive to build a culture around “class,” “integrity,” “discipline” and “selflessness.”
Although his win marks a major milestone in his career, the softball season is still not over. With eight games left in the season, Combs’ goal is to get to the postseason conference and compete in the Great Lakes Valley Conference tournament.
“[I would like to] give thanks to my wife, Susan, and my two boys, Cruze and Brecken,” Combs said. “Their support of what I do and the amount of time I commit to this program is extremely important to me, [I’d also like to give thanks to] my parents for supporting me for the past 42 years, and Jeff Bower who has been a part of this program for seven years as the assistant and has been committed to our culture. And of course [I’d like to thank] the current team and especially the alumni who are as much of a part of winning 300 games as anyone.”
The Cardinals’ next game is against Lewis University Saturday, April 22.