Former Ronan softball player signs with Williston State

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FORMER RONAN High School softball player Emilie Corley plays third base during a Polson-Ronan softball game. (photo courtesy of Bob Gunderson)

Former Ronan High School softball player Emilie Corley has been through a lot in her career as a softball player.

At one point in Corley’s career as a softball player, she desired to quit the sport that will now help her pay for college.

The former Ronan High School and a Polson softball player, signed with Williston State University, a National Junior College Athletic Association Division II school located in Williston, North Dakota, to play college softball.

“The girl has been through a lot in her softball career,” Emilie’s father John Corley said. “There were times when she was younger that we forced her to play because she wanted to quit. After that season, she never lost sight of what she wanted to do as a player, and has achieved what she wanted at this point.”

John Corley has been on recruiting trips with his son and Emilie’s brother Trevor Corley, and the former Polson product eventually opted to sign with Minot State University, an NCAA Division II football program, to play football in 2017.

“It’s a lot of pressure to play college sports, and like her brother Trevor, she gets up at six in the morning and goes to bed at 11 at night after doing school work,” John Corley said. “Playing college sports can be worse than having a fulltime job. It’s not all glitz and glamor as people want to think it is. There are a lot of sacrifices and a lot of work.”

Emilie received interest from softball programs in Wisconsin, Pennslyvania, Oklahoma, Florida and Alabama before choosing Williston State.

According to John Corley, his daughter knew when she stepped on the campus of Williston State University, she was in the right place.

“She had pretty much made her decision within five minutes of talking to the coach,” John Corley said. “She just had the best feeling about attending school at Williston.”

Corley will enter a program directed under new coach Talyn Richard, who is working on improving WSU into a national powerhouse.

“He is making a lot of improvements,” John Corley said. “On the field, it seems like they are buying into what the head coach wants them to do, and trying to rebuild the program. Richard has a good plan for the school and the program, and it’s going to be fun to watch. It’s incredible what they have.”

The oil boom of Williston changed the dynamics of what used to be a smaller community at the northern tip of North Dakota. With the increase in population came higher crime rates.

At first, John had trepidation about Emilie living there until he took a visit to the area.

“I’ll tell you I heard a lot of bad things about Williston, especially (when the town) first went through the oil boom, you heard about a high crime rate and things like that,” John Corlee said. “I have a few friends there, and they tell me ‘it’s not like that anymore.’ After talking with them and once I went over there, it was a friendly community. It’s a reasonably safe place for kids to be.”

Corlie said he felt comfortable with Emilie’s new head coach.

“He wants them to get an education, be better softball players, and most importantly wants them to be better people,” Corley said. “He wants them to have fun. He’s not a big yeller, and he just wants them to have fun, and play the game to the best of their ability. As a parent, that is all you can ask.”

Corley, during her career was part both Polson, and Ronan softball teams.

Corley, will now have a chance to sign with a team that is making progress towards building a softball team into a powerhouse.

The Tetons, under the direction of their new head coach Dan Ries, are on the cusp of being one of the best softball teams in the NJCAA.

The Tetons, with their state of the art facilities, will have a chance to only improve their program from years to come.

Williston State, known for it’s hockey program, will have a chance to improve on their softball program, and make their softball program one of the top-tier teams in the NJCAA.

Corley looks to be one of the building blocks towards the Tetons future.

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