The opportunity to coach college-aged kids for four years was too good to pass up for Marshalltown High School and Marshalltown Community College softball coach Jeff Lamb.
That is why he decided to accept the head coaching position at Clarke University.
"Working with high school for four years at Marshalltown the past two seasons has really made me more interested in coaching college kids for four years," said Lamb, who officially starts on the job at Clarke on August 1. "It's certainly going to be a change that I welcome."
Lamb served five years as MCC's softball coach and has guided the Bobcats for the past two seasons, including taking Marshalltown to the state tournament in 2012.
He won't be venturing into the high school ranks when he arrives in Dubuque in August though. He wants to be able to spend his summers with his family.
"Coaching a four-year college without coaching high school will be a completely different experience," Lamb said. "There will be come challenges at Clarke, but good challenges to take on."
The Crusaders went 9-27 last year and finished 3-17 in Midwest Classic Conference play.
"We are very excited about the future leadership of our softball program under Jeff Lamb," Clarke University Athletic Director Curt Long said. "Jeff is not only a talented coach, above all, he shares the values of our university."
Lamb said he grew up on the river in Fort Madison and his future home of Dubuque will give him that same experience again.
"It is a small school like MCC and kind of has that same feel of Marshalltown, but it also has that big-town atmosphere," said Lamb, who played baseball for MCC and served as an assistant coach for two seasons as well. "There is room for improvement as far as the team goes. The community reminds me of Marshalltown though. Everyone knows everyone."
Lamb said he would consider taking players who graduated from MCC this past year with him to Clarke if the situation were right for both parties. He also said he would take any one of his seniors on the current Bobcat roster.
"We're looking into some of the players we had at MCC, and we will always have options there," Lamb said. "Most of the seniors on the high school team already know where they are going, but I would take any one of those players. I think the world of those girls. I have enjoyed watching them grow as players."
Because Dubuque is so close to three states, Lamb admitted that his focus on recruiting will change. He will now look at players from Iowa, Wisconsin and Illinois, among others, when filling out his collegiate rosters.
"It will be different than MCC," Lamb said. "It is a Catholic school and a private school, so we will need to make sure we get the right kind of athletes. They need to be good fits for the school and my style of play."
Lamb's teams at MCC broke more than 30 individual and team records.
The state tournament appearance last year for the Bobcats was the first ever for the program. And Taylor Wagner's second-team all-state honor was the first all-state honor for a Marshalltown player since Brooke Bousum and Tiffany Cruikshank were named to the Class 3A fifth team in 2001. And not since Diane Gaskill in 1999 had the Marshalltown program had an all-state honoree as high as the second team.
Prior to serving as an MCC assistant baseball coach, Lamb served as a graduate assistant baseball coach at Georgia College and State University and as a volunteer baseball coach at West Chester.
Marshalltown Athletic Director Craig Huegel, who officially begins duties Monday, said he has not yet begun a search for Lamb's replacement but said a search will get underway in the coming weeks.