In Play with Tom Markowski

Trenton's Biedenbach becomes seventh coach to reach 1,000 victories

Softball   | Tom Markowski

Trenton's Biedenbach becomes seventh coach to reach 1,000 victories

Trenton – John Biedenbach never gave a thought about coaching softball while he was playing baseball at Flint St. Matthew and in the few years that followed.

“I was looking for a coaching and a teaching position,” Biedenbach said. “I was still involved with baseball, helping out with some local teams when I was approached (about a teaching position). I thought it would include coaching baseball but that wasn’t the case.”

Trenton High School was in need of a softball coach and Biedenbach wasn’t picky. He took it and simply applied his baseball knowledge to coaching girls play softball.

“I just treated them like I would any other athlete,” he said.

It worked.

Biedenbach, 73, is in his 42nd season as Trenton’s varsity softball coach and on April 24 he won his 1,000th game as the Trojans defeated Southgate Anderson, 3-2, in a Downriver League game at Southgate.

He's the seventh coach to reach this milestone.

Trenton has never won a state title but it did reach a Division 2 final in 2005 losing to Wyoming Rogers, 6-1.

“Everybody wants to win,” Biedenbach said. “But it’s the process. We want that total effort.”

Biedenbach is more concerned with participation than winning. His philosophy is, if a player puts in the time, plays by his rules, she’s earned her way onto the diamond.

“We play a lot of tournaments,” he said. “Sometimes we’ll play three games in a day. In the past we’ve played four. That way we give everyone a chance.

“It shouldn’t be work. They call it, ‘play ball’. Not work ball.”

Trenton is 7-7 this season, 6-1 in league play. Last season Trenton won a district title and it’ll be in the hunt again for a district title this season.

Among the top players Biedenbach has coach include the Lesko sisters, Erin and Kelly. Erin earned the Miss Softball award (the only player from Trenton to do so) in 2002 and went on to play at Hillsdale. Kelly played at Madonna.

One of Biedenbach’s best athletes was Kim Hoppes. Hoppes played three sports and her best was volleyball. She earned four varsity letters in that sport at Michigan Tech in the early 1990s.

Biedenbach has no timetable. He’ll continue to coach as long as it remains fun. When the fun stops he’ll leave.

“It keeps you young,” he said. “It keeps you motivated to keep going. I still help with the fundraising and each night I’ll spend some time looking ahead to our next opponent.”

Biedenbach is fortunate, in many ways. His wife, Joan, attends all of the games and she’s the one who keeps track of the players’ phone numbers and much of the paper work.

“She’s the CEO of Trenton softball,” he said. “I’ve been blessed to be at the same school that long. The parents have been great. The administrators have been great and the kids have been great. We’ve been to a few weddings and I try to see at least one game in college where my players played.

“When you come down to it, all you have is memories.”