Trevians Softball’s resurgence is a family matter, making Dana Dolinko just the woman for the job.
Dolinko, a Trevians alumna and former New Trier High School standout, has taken the reins of the rejuvenated Trevians Girls Softball Association from fellow NTHS graduate Kelsey Farmer.
Dolinko inherits a once-powerful program that had to rebuild after a participation decline in the early 2010s. The program, which primarily serves girls residing in New Trier Township, had just five teams throughout its levels in 2015. It now has 12, which means more than 100 girls.
Maintaining and inflating those numbers will be Dolinko’s responsibility.
“(Farmer) has done great job of rebuilding the program. It was shrinking for a long time,” Dolinko said. ” … (I want to) continue to grow the program and bring it back to the competitive level that it used to be at. We work and develop kids at 10U, which will help out the New Trier program get strong too.”
When Dolinko (2011-’15) and Farmer (then Kelsey Lee; 2006-’10) played for New Trier, the Trevs were among the top programs in the state, making three state final fours (2006, 2008, 2011) and winning nine regional titles in 10 seasons (2006-’15). New Trier has not won a regional since.
Farmer and Dolinko — both New Trier pitchers — each went on to play college softball. Farmer at Lehigh University and Dolinko at Union College, and both found their way back to Trevians youth softball.
Not long after college, Farmer was asked to take over the 40-year-old nonprofit program. She did, but it wasn’t easy. The program was “in a little bit of a rut,” she said. Competing with up-and-coming lacrosse and always-steady soccer, Trevians softball saw a numbers decline and Farmer saw a challenge.
“We really placed strong emphasis on our 10U program,” she said. “And we really tried to rally around the Cubs World Series momentum (in and after 2016). Charlie Ieuter, one of my coaches growing up, was instrumental in building up that core group of younger softball players and getting them interested at a young age.”
Farmer oversaw growth in the program for eight years before giving up the reins.
“Fittingly, my softball number is 8, so there’s good karma around it,” she said. “It’s good for the organization to get some new fresh ideas and fun energy with Dana. It’s the right time for me and the organization.”
And for Dolinko, who was already co-coaching the program’s 18U team with her father, Al, a longtime Trevians softball coach.
When Farmer decided to step down, she looked to Dolinko, who said she wants to give back to the game what it gave to her.
“I felt it was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up,” she said. “I guess I just loved and love softball so much and feel it shaped who I am as a person. I have gotten a lot of character traits from playing, and being able to teach others the game, being able to share those traits with younger girls is something that is really fulfilling to me.”
Following a trail blazed by her predecessor, Dolinko wants to continue focusing on the youth of Trevians and teaching young girls the game of softball. She said better participation in the younger levels feeds the future of the upper levels.
And while returning the Trevians to their former glory is a goal, it’s not the mission of Dolinko and Trevians Softball. She said the Trevians are about having a good experience from start to finish, which includes 10U through 18U.
With that in mind, the Trevians 10U tryouts will be held from 10 a.m.-noon on Saturday, Aug. 26, on Field 4 at Willow Park, 401 N. Wagner Road in Northfield.
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