COUNCIL BLUFFS — Val Hallagan has taken the transition in stride, even though it had to be difficult adjusting to the red and blue of Council Bluffs Abraham Lincoln.
That’s because not long ago, Abraham Lincoln’s first-year softball coach spent her prep summers playing for the Lynx’s crosstown rival, Thomas Jefferson. The former Val Robinson was a three-time first-team all-city softball selection before going on to play softball and soccer at Wayne State.
The 25-year-old Hallagan then came back to Council Bluffs to teach freshman physical science at Abraham Lincoln. She is finishing her second year at the school and officially took over as softball coach last November, replacing Pat Kroll.
Abraham Lincoln opens its season Tuesday. This will be Hallagan’s first coaching experience, and she’s ready for the challenge.
“I was kind of hoping to coach eventually,” she said. “I wasn’t expecting it to come this quickly, but the previous coach was done after last year, so it really just kind of fell into place for me. I knew there was a great group of girls that were coming up and playing this year. I’m really excited to get it going.”
Hallagan inherits a Lynx squad that finished 19-16 and graduated three seniors. They return one of the top bats in the city in senior Lauren Meeker, who hit .407 with 48 runs batted in last summer.
Abraham Lincoln’s opener Tuesday is at home against defending Class 2-A state champion Treynor. Two days later, the Lynx will host Thomas Jefferson.
Hallagan is excited about getting back into the city rivalry.
“I played a lot of games against A.L., and of course those are the most fun because they’re our city rivals,” she said. “Still, in Council Bluffs in general, we’re just a community trying to make each other better. As a city, we’re still a family. It feels at home because I’m in Council Bluffs. It’s going to be great.”
More than anything, she’s looking forward to developing her players both on and off the softball field.
“I’m just looking forward to helping the girls grow as players and people and watching them mature as softball players,” she said. “It’s pretty exciting. This is my second year teaching at Abraham Lincoln, and I really like it there. I feel at home at A.L. It’s been a pretty easy transition, so I’m just excited for my new home.”