2019 Kenosha Softball HOF: Tanya Bertog McGonegle
Her Kenosha Softball Accomplishments Have No Equal
Having been a 2-time Academic All-American at Parkside, what were the greatest challenges transitioning from fast pitch to slow pitch?
I think the obvious challenge was adjusting to the speed of the ball coming into home when I was standing in the batter’s box. There isn’t anything more humbling than swinging as hard as you can just to find out that you were actually way ahead of the ball. The other challenge that really sticks out in my mind was playing with 4 outfielders. I played center field in college so I was used to covering a lot of ground. I actually didn’t mind when my slow pitch team was short players and we had to play with 3 outfielders.
What was your earliest Kenosha softball memory?
My earliest memories of Kenosha softball were going to my older sisters’ practices and games so I could shag fly balls during batting practice. My first tournament I played in was when I was 12 years old in 1985. My sisters were playing, one on one team and two on the other team. A team was short players so they asked the other team if it was okay that I played even though I was under the age requirement. I can remember how excited I was when they said yes!
The amount of extremely talented women players in Kenosha was solid, but smaller than the men’s pool, any extra pressure being one of the “greats”?
It’s funny to me to think about being of one of the great players. I look back now and it is sort of sinking in. At the time we were all playing a sport we were passionate about and it was special to me to spend time with the people that I was close to. I had no idea that all those years of playing would earn me a title. There isn’t any extra pressure other than I wish I could still play at that level now.
Having successes nationally, describe what its like having great success in your hometown at the collegiate level as well as the “grown-up” KTown Softball level?
Playing at Parkside was amazing to me and it was a bonus that it was in my hometown. Everyone that I played with at the college level were exceptional athletes. The Kenosha News did an awesome job reporting Parkside softball news especially the year we made it to Nationals. Everyone following sports knew my family. There were players from my high school and college teams that played with me on my slow pitch teams. I think that was one of the biggest reasons my teams had so much success in Kenosha. My favorite thing about playing both levels where I grew up is that my parents were able to watch so many games. They were my biggest fans and I know they were really proud of how I played the game.
As the Rotary Tournament nears, what is your favorite Rotary Tournament memory?
There wasn’t anything better than playing in the Rotary Tournament finals and seeing so many people watching down the first and third base sidelines. The sea of people really stands out in my mind! I also remember doing a few mudslides in the puddles on Lincoln #1 while we were waiting to play in the championship game.
How much was softball and sports in general just a part of your overall daily life growing up?
Sports was really a huge part of my life growing up. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t either playing or watching some type of sport. I think the only time I couldn’t play was when I injured my shoulder and I had to keep it immobile for 6 weeks. Before that injury, I broke my wrist and I convinced my parents to let me play in my softball games with my cast on!
Are you intense when watching the next generation of McGonegle’s compete because you played at the highest level or do you keep it all in perspective…or somewhere in between?
You can say somewhere in between. My kids know that I’ve played 3 sports competitively so they understand their mom is a little more intense than most normal moms. I enjoy watching them play and feel very lucky to have my daughter playing at Truman State University now.
Who is the best you ever saw, played with or played against?
There were so many great softball players in Kenosha when I played. Cheryl Hanks, Cindy Herr, Leila Mercado, Tracy Berbach, Sue Palubicki just to list a few. Those girls could really hit the ball far!
What crossed your mind when you found out you were chosen to join the softball HOF?
I was actually really surprised when I got the call! It really is an honor to be chosen and to have my accomplishments recognized this way. Then I wondered if my husband was chosen too. They couldn’t really tell me on the phone but based on the response I got after I asked, I could tell it was going to be a family affair.
One last question, have you ever been pitched to by your husband and fellow 2019 inductee, and if so did you shoot one back up the box and buzz the tower?
No, not that I remember, but that would have been fun!
Tanya and fellow 2019 inductees will be honored at a ceremony at the Kenosha Rotary Tournament on July 14th at Lincoln Park. The rest of the 2019 Kenosha Softball Hall of Fame class:
Brad Breilling, Dan McGonegle, Glen Marescalco, Doug Spitzer, Steve Hess, Kevin McGinn, Butch Schultz, Clarence Bosman, George Bosman, Doug Stanich, Joe Bentz and Al Gajdos