Palisade hires Stluka to be new softball coach

Palisade High School’s new softball coach wants softball to be about more than winning.

That mentality helped 29-year-old Megan Stluka get the job, the school announced Thursday.

“In our interviews, we don’t ask a single question about their softball knowledge,” Palisade Athletic Director Mike Krueger said. “We can tell from their experience they have that. We want to get a person that fits our philosophy of using sports as an avenue to teach kids how to become better people.

“We want coaches that act in the best interest of our kids and care about them as people before players. Megan fit that mold well. She is kid-oriented. She is the kind of person we know the kids will enjoy the experience.”

Stluka is from the south side of Chicago. She played first base in high school and at St. Xavier (Ill.) University, an NAIA school in Chicago, from 2002 to 2006.

She started her coaching career while at St. Xavier and has six years of experience between Beecher High School and Queen of Peace High School in the Chicago metro area.

Stluka moved to Grand Junction last summer when she took a job as a counselor at Rocky Mountain Elementary School.

“I’ve very excited,” Stluka said. “I wanted to get one year under my belt with counseling before I was ready to start coaching.”

Stluka initially hoped to get an assistant coaching job, but she said she was pleasantly surprised to get a head coaching job.

“I was lucky enough to have good coaches growing up,” Stluka said. “Not only in softball, but in basketball, too. I wanted to be a positive influence on kids.”

Assistant coach Windi Serrano will remain on the staff.

“I’m excited to work with her,” Stluka said. “I don’t know much about it. It’s nice to have someone with experience and knowledge about softball here.”

Palisade (13-9) won the Class 4A Western Slope League title last season. The Bulldogs were eliminated in the region tournament. Palisade had eight seniors on its roster last year.

Stluka succeeds Nicole Zuniga, who resigned to return to college and further her education.

“That was a big loss,” Krueger said. “She did a great job. She was tough to lose, but we’re happy we got someone like Megan.”

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