Jessie Thueme speaks after receiving the Female Athlete of the Year award at UM-Dearborn's all-sports banquet. (Rebecca Gallagher/MJ)

By RICKY LINDSAY, Editor-in-Chief

Before the 2014 Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference softball tournament, Scott Combs and Jessie Thueme had a talk.

Thueme, a junior at the time, hit .294 with five home runs and 20 RBI in 45 games, all modest numbers for the 19-28 UM-Dearborn softball team.

But Combs, the Wolverines’ softball coach, needed more.

“I told her she needed to up the ante,” Combs said. “She needed to be a leader, she needed to make some changes.”

One year later, Combs and Thueme weren’t having any talks about the future; they were celebrating accomplishments.

The Wolverines had their best season in five years and became the first team from UM-Dearborn to reach a WHAC title game.

And Thueme played a significant part in all the success.

Her offensive numbers increased dramatically in 2015. She hit .386 with 10 home runs and a WHAC-high 52 RBI in 45 games, a stark difference from a year prior.

On May 8, Thueme was honored for her efforts, receiving UM-Dearborn’s Female Athlete of the Year award at the university’s all-sports banquet.

And Combs was there, beaming with pride.

“She did everything that I asked her to do and more,” Combs said. “The bond that she and I have, (it’s) tremendously special, and I really appreciate it.”

Thueme was equally excited for Combs, who was honored as UM-Dearborn’s Coach of the Year at the banquet.

“It’s pretty awesome. He puts in so many hours and he’s doing so many things,” Thueme said. “He dedicates so much time to this program…it’s really cool to win so many games this year with him and take this team to the championship with him.

Improving from year-to-year in athletics isn’t easy. The same can be said for UM-Dearborn’s softball team.

Combs knew the Wolverines were capable of a championship before the season, but the athletes had to discover that themselves. They laid the foundation for success through hard work and dedication in the offseason.

“We put in so many hours. In the fall and winter, we were going six, almost seven days a week,” Thueme said. “It really paid off for us and it was really cool, our team really came together. We started just 21 girls at the beginning of the season and we’ve come really close. I think you’re only going to see that bond excel in the future.”