Rifle to name softball field after longtime girls softball coach Cindy Skinner
A longtime Rifle resident who has helped to shape the lives of many young women over the years is being bestowed with a special honor.
Pioneering Rifle High School and Little League softball coach Cindy Skinner will be honored with the renaming of the softball field at Deerfield Park as Cindy Skinner Field.
Rifle City Council unanimously agreed at its Nov. 20 meeting to name the field after Skinner, who was the founding coach for the Rifle Bears softball program starting in 1995 until 2015. Skinner has continued to coach the younger girls through the city’s youth league.
“For me, it’s about being able to have these young women look to other women as someone they can believe in and be a model to them for making a difference,” Skinner said this week.
Originally from Michigan where she played softball while growing up, Skinner came to Rifle when her husband, Brad Skinner, took a teaching job at RHS.
Cindy went to work for what was then known as Garfield Youth Services (now YouthZone), and soon got involved on the front end of starting the local high school softball team.
“Honestly, I’ve learned a lot from coaching,” she said. “You see the whole game from that perspective.”
Skinner credits current Bears coach Troy Phillips with continuing to develop the program after serving as her assistant coach for several years. “It was definitely a team effort, and not something I did all by myself,” she said.
Several Rifle residents and former players of Skinner’s spoke before City Council or wrote letters in support of renaming what’s been long known as Taugenbaugh Field.
“… Her actions changed the course of my life,” 1999 RHS graduate and member of the inaugural team Emily Hisel said. “Softball at RHS gave me a place where I could excel, and friends that I keep to this day.”
Skinner ultimately encouraged Hisel to take up coaching as her daughter took up the sport.
“It has become a major component of my life, and has strengthened my connection to my daughter as well as her friends and their families,” Hisel said.
“Cindy was such an amazing coach, who still cares about her players to this day. She made softball a moment in our lives that we will remember forever,” 2014 RHS graduate Mary Robinson wrote to the council.
And, added current RHS Athletic Director Damon Wells in another letter, “Stadium and field naming really are ways for schools and municipalities to demonstrate what matters … longevity, impact and excellence.
“Effectively, Cindy is the ‘Mother of Softball’ in Rifle,” Wells said. “It would be the ultimate sign of respect for any coach to see a legacy cemented through the naming of a field.”
Joey Thomas, current president of the Colorado River Valley Little League, said Skinner has been instrumental in growing the league’s softball program.
“This past season, we had six full teams from the Rifle area, and much of this success can be attributed to Cindy’s help,” Thomas wrote. “Her investment in our youngest players can be seen at all our levels of competition.”
Skinner said her work with the youth program has allowed her to continue the connection with her former high school players, many of whom now have their own children in Little League.
“I just love watching the kids grow, and we have a strong philosophy that what you learn on the softball field, you can take into life and be able to use in your personal growth and in the community,” Skinner said.
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