BELOIT — If you have a problem keeping a secret, stop right now.
Do not read this.
If you can keep your lips reasonably sealed, well, OK then. Be it known that the Beloit Memorial Purple Knights are throwing a surprise party for retiring head coach Vicki Noss Saturday.
Thats right, SURPRISE party. So what are they doing publicizing it in the newspaper? Assistant coach Doug Beeler said getting the word out is worth the risk of Noss learning about the festivities.
“She doesnt look at newspapers too often,” he said with a chuckle. “I think we will be safe. I think the excitement will be for her to see all the support and be able to talk to old friends and players.”
The Knights host Madison Memorial at 11 a.m. at Lanning Field in Krueger Park. There will be a presentation between games and Beeler said his co-head coach will be able to greet her supporters during the second game. Players and fans from her decades of work with the Knights are urged to attend.
“With all the hot foul balls down the third baseline she hasnt been coaching at third this season, but shell be there the first game and for the second, weve made arrangements so she can just enjoy being with her friends and family,” Beeler said.
Noss was John Schroeders assistant for 25 seasons and then two under Jennifer Pozzani before taking over the head coaching reins in 2009. She and Beeler have split coaching duties since.
Schroeder, a member of the Wisconsin Softball Coaches Association Hall of Fame, said Noss deserves any and all accolades she receives.
“Shes as responsible as anyone for any success Beloit Memorial has had in softball,” he said. “Shes a remarkable person.”
“I know she doesnt like recognition for herself, but she deserves it,” he said. “Its always been about the players for her and its been a lot more than just softball. She turned a lot of young girls into outstanding young women. We were just talking to the team the other day and Prom came up. She reminded them that if they were ever in trouble and afraid to call their parents, they should call her.”
Schroeder had that same hotline when he was coach. No wonder they got along so well.
“Ive said it many times, in all our years together we never had a disagreement,” he said. “We were always on the same wavelength, on the same page. She was a calming influence on the team and girls loved playing for her. I never heard a negative word about her.”
Former BMHS slugger Tala Cornell speaks for literally hundreds of Knights.
“Coach Noss is very kind-hearted and shes always willing to go the extra mile to make sure her players are happy,” Cornell said. Noss had a slowpitch background when she began coaching with Schroeder. She had played first base for top-notch Beloit Floral teams coached by her father.
“She has a sound understanding of the game,” Schroeder said. “She did her research about fastpitch hitting and she knew all about defense from playing slowpitch.”
Noss retired as an accounting teacher at BMHS a few years ago. Beeler said giving up softball, too, wasnt something she considered lightly.
“She is going out on her terms,” he said. “We talked about this season a couple of years ago. We had a lot of these seniors as freshmen on the varsity and she wanted to coach them as seniors. Theyre a special group and she wanted to go out with them. But she also feels confident in the talent in the program looking ahead, too.”