Catching up with ... Beth Renkoski

Amara Aguilar

Beth Renkoski was born in southwest Missouri. Grew up on a dairy

farm. Went to family picnics on Sundays. Played softball in a pasture

near a creek when she was 5.

Already, Renkoski knew she loved the sport. When she began attending

elementary school she played baseball with the boys on the playground

because there was no girls squad.

Finally the school organized a summer softball program and Renkoski

jumped at the chance to play on a team.

“I’m the baby of eight kids and was basically the first one of my

family to get to participate in athletics because everyone had to work on

the farm,” she said. “The three siblings above me were boys and they did

all the chores, so when I got interested in sports I was allowed to do


Renkoski still contributed to the family’s livelihood, hauling hay in

the summer and driving the tractor in the fields, but she didn’t have to

get up early in the morning to milk cows. Her brothers took care of that


The farm Renkoski lived on was stretched across 180 acres. It had

rolling hills and typical farm animals, lots of them.

“When I grew up, we had beef cattle, sold pork and when I was really

little, my dad still raised crops to sell,” Renkoski said. “We had

chickens, everything you needed to eat. We had a huge garden and an

orchard. My mom used to make homemade bread.”

The family’s home was located off a dirt road in between two towns,

Purdy and Wheaton.

Renkoski went to Wheaton High, where she expanded her athletic

interests. She played softball, volleyball, basketball and was on the

track team. She was even in the school band, playing the trumpet.

“Because it’s a real small place, you do everything,” Renkoski said.

After high school, she attended Crowder College in Missouri, where she

played basketball and softball during her first semester, but decided to

stick with only softball after that.

“I figured out that softball was going to take me on,” she said. “I

went to nationals my freshman year. A coach from Nicholls State

University saw me during my freshman year and eventually that’s where I

ended up my last two years. That was huge. That was a turning point as

far as starting to see the world. The midwest and Louisiana are

definitely different.”

It was different in a good way. Renkoski fell in love with Southern

hospitality and the diversity of Louisiana. She also prospered on the

softball field, earning All-Conference and All-Region honors.

While in college, Renkoski joined Athletes In Action, a sports

ministry organization that is a division of Campus Crusade for Christ.

The summer after her junior year, Renkoski found herself even farther

away from home, in Italy where she played in the Italian Softball League

for two years.

“It was unbelievable,” Renkoski said. “It was the second big

turnaround in my life. I fell in love with the people. We were on a trip

to share God through softball. It was the first time those two loves came

together for me.”

It was through Athletes In Action that Renkoski wound up at Vanguard

University. AIA had started a club team to play in the United States and

in 1990, Renkoski spent the summer at Vanguard, then named Southern

California College.

Eventually, she was hired as an assistant softball coach and became

the head coach after the 1996 season.

“I said I’d never coach because I saw what my high school coaches went

through with the parents,” Renkoski said. “I just wanted to play forever.

I agreed to try coaching because I hadn’t made any major plans yet. I

figured out that I liked it and I liked teaching the game.”

A few years later, when Vanguard’s sports information director left,

Renkoski applied for that position.

“I thought it was something I’d be interested in,” Renkoski said. “I

got my degree in business, but wanted to stay involved in sports


In 2000, Renkoski was given a full-time position combining sports

information and head softball coaching duties.

Ask her if she knows who leads Vanguard’s basketball teams in points

or rebounds, and she knows the stats by heart.

“It’s a whole lot of work, but I enjoy being involved in other sports,

yet not having to think about them as a coach would,” she said. “I like

numbers as an SID. As a coach I don’t want the players to focus on them,

but I like it when a baseball box score adds up. For some reason that is

cool to me.”

This season, Vanguard’s softball team has gotten off to a blazing

start, going 13-6-1. With softball season well underway, plus SID duties,

Renkoski has her hands full. She doesn’t have much time for hobbies, but

does manage to give attention to her cat “Nikki.” Renkoski is also a big

baseball fan. Her dad sat her down when she was little and told her that

they were a national league family and that the Cardinals were their

team. She still cheers for them. After all, she hasn’t traveled that far

away from her roots.