Piper duo to coach De Pere softball squad
By Mallory Allen
DE PERE – There are several new – and yet, very familiar – faces at the helm of the De Pere High School (DPHS) softball team this year.
In December, Brillion native Travis Piper was announced as the program’s next varsity head coach.
He and his wife, Cassie, have four children: McKayleigh (21), Caden (16), Nataleigh (11) and Colton (7).
Piper and his family are longtime Redbirds.
“We live in De Pere,” Travis said. “My wife works in the district. Our kids have been going to school here since McKayleigh was young.”
McKayleigh first got her father into softball.
“I was always a baseball guy growing up, but I fell in love with fastpitch, thanks to (McKayleigh) about 11 years ago,” Travis said.
Since then, he’s amassed extensive experience as a softball coach at multiple levels.
Piper coached for the Wisconsin Wildfire and later led the 16U and 18U River Rebels teams for five seasons.
He has also served as a catching instructor for the De Pere Girls Softball Association for several years.
“I think I have lots of experience to bring to this program, with everything I’ve learned,” Travis said. “I have so much passion for this sport, and I know lots of the kids already. When they were younger, they came through the club programs I worked at. It’s fun to see them six or seven years later still into softball and excelling.”
Travis said his favorite part about coaching is seeing his players’ hard work pay off.
“Being able to instruct the girls and show technique during practice and then watch it come to life in games is rewarding for me and the players,” he said. “It’s also exciting to see girls I’ve coached over the years get into coaching themselves.”
McKayleigh will be an assistant coach alongside her father this season.
“I have another former player, Makayla Alexander, who’s going to be on our staff as well,” Travis said. “It’s fun to see them stick with it… and have softball be an important part of their past and their future.”
McKayleigh – a DPHS softball alum who earned first-team all-conference honors twice and is now a junior at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay – said she’s eager to lead her former team with her father at her side.
“Life without coaching softball isn’t in the cards for my dad,” she said. “The positive impact his coaching has had on my life and the way softball has strengthened our relationship enticed me to work alongside him.”
The Piper pair said they hope their unique connection to Redbird softball brings comfort to the players and success to the program.
“I want to bring a positive culture where the girls feel valued,” Travis said.
McKayleigh added she’s “looking forward to working with the girls and pushing them to be the best players and individuals they can be.”
Travis said he’s optimistic about what the future holds for the De Pere softball program.
“We have great young talent coming up and a great opportunity to compete at a high level,” he said. “We have ambitious goals, and we’re hungry to win.”
While winning is any coach’s ultimate goal, the Pipers said they want their players to “know they’re leaving a positive impact on everybody they’re playing for, with and against.”
“It’s not about the destination, it’s about enjoying the journey,” Travis said. “Hopefully, we can give these young ladies and players a great experience they can take with them the rest of their lives.”