A local Portage pitcher is now spreading her knowledge with up-and-coming athletes in the United States.
Jen Ostapowich has been giving pitching lessons since 2000, and in the last three years, she has decided to make it her full-time career. She worked as a physical education teacher for 16 years but says it feels great to be able to pursue her passion full-time.
"Now it has become a business, it's called Pitcher Perfect," Ostapowich explains. "It's a private pitching instruction business for girls ages 7-22. On my property, I have a facility and they come to have individual lessons with me. I have 115 full-time athletes and take in girls by referral only."
Ostapowich says there was a need for an elite-level pitching coach for women in Wisconsin, where she has lived since 2002, and notes she is glad she took advantage.
"Finding a female coach that works well with athletes and does private lessons is very hard to find," says Ostapowich. "I imagine if I were at home, I would have a hard time making a good living off of this because it is just huge down here in the States."
The Portager is a decorated pitcher in her own right as she is being inducted into the Mayville State University Athletic Hall of Fame this week for her personal success while playing with the school. Ostapowich is also already a member of the Manitoba Softball Hall of Fame and the Canadian Softball Hall of Fame.
She says she does one-hour lessons and adds she sees each athlete a couple of times a month, at most. Ostapowich notes she is the only instructor and does everything herself.
"They come usually every two weeks or whenever they can get in. I am, after all, only one person. I'm the only instructor, this is my business, I run it, I operate it, I do everything, and the lessons are solely me," Ostapowich continues. "Girls see me as much as they can in a month and then I also do some virtual lessons with girls in different states and a few girls from Canada as well."
The local also says she currently has a waiting list for new students, which is backed up all the way until December of this year. While it has become a busy career for Ostapowich she says it's basically a dream come true.
"I know it's very cliche to say 'if you enjoy your job, you'll never work a day in your life, but that's exactly how I feel about what I do," Ostapowich says.