One of the most successful softball programs in the region has a new coach, with a familiar name.
“It’s like a dream come true,” said Ari Van Horn, who has taken over the top job at Prairie High School.
Her father, Bob Van Horn, is the head coach at Mountain View. The two will face each other in Class 3A Greater St. Helens League competition this spring.
“Being around me dad and him being a coach my whole life, it’s always something I wanted to do,” Ari said.
Ari, 23 and a graduate of Evergreen High School, has been an assistant coach with Camas the past two seasons, facing her dad’s team in that capacity. This will be different, though.
“We’ve always been really supportive of each other, but it’s going to be a lot more competitive and a lot more intense,” Ari said. “Head coach vs. head coach. But it’s awesome. I’m really excited. It’s going to be fun and really intense.”
Ari Van Horn will take over for Dawn Rowe, who resigned after leading the Falcons to a second-place finish at the Class 3A state tournament last spring. Under Rowe, Prairie won a state title in 2006 and also finished fourth in 2009.
Dawn and her husband Stuart, an assistant coach with the Falcons, resigned to devote more time to youth ministry. Dawn said it was a good time to leave coaching because it was “such a remarkable year” with a great team last spring.
Ari Van Horn said Dawn and Stuart Rowe both wrote her letters of recommendation for the Prairie job. Ari and Dawn have met a few times to discuss the challenges of being a head coach.
Ari Van Horn won Northwest titles playing for Mount Hood Community College. This is her first head coaching job.
“It’s kind of nerve-racking,” Van Horn said. “I have some big shoes to fill.”