It's a Homecoming for Park's Delaney Young

By John Molene
Posted 1/31/24

In the waning moments of a lopsided loss to a visiting Cretin-Derham Hall B squad team., Park coach Tony Young is animatedly prowling the sidelines. Coach Delaney Young, meanwhile, is serenely …

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It's a Homecoming for Park's Delaney Young


In the waning moments of a lopsided loss to a visiting Cretin-Derham Hall B squad team., Park coach Tony Young is animatedly prowling the sidelines. Coach Delaney Young, meanwhile, is serenely watching from the bench.

Serene probably wouldn’t be the words an observer would choose who watched Delaney Young star as a softball player at Park High, Augustana University, or playing basketball for the Wolfpack. She was a skilled, animated and fierce competitor.

But things are different now. Instead of driving in a run or fielding a line drive, Young is now an American Sign Language teacher at Park High School. She, along with her dad, Tony, coach the Park B basketball team.

This year is the homecoming for Young, an All-State softball star and memorable basketball player during her playing days at Park. She graduated from Park in 2018 and was off to Augustana University in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, where she earned a boatload of softball honors along with an advanced degree. Now she’s back in the Cottage Grove fold, teaching and coaching at Park.

Delaney’s softball career at Augustana was one for the record books. Playing first base, she was a NSIC Gold Glove Award winner in 2021 and a first team all NSIC player in 2022 and 2023. She earned second team All-American honors in 2023. Her team won NSIC championships in 2021, 2022 and 2023 and were the NCAA Division 2 champions her freshman year in 2022. Augustana went 215-47 during her tenure. She finished her career as the all-time leader in fielding percentage at Augustana with a 99.6 percentage, committing just six errors in 1,480 changes.

Academically at Augustana, Young majored in ASL interpreting and minored in coaching. She gets to do both at Park. And if those jobs don’t work out, Young can always fall back on the master’s degree in business administration she earned during her fifth year at Augustana.

After graduation from Augustana, Young wasn’t at first entirely sure she wanted to teach.

“I feel when I was super little, I wanted to teach” Young said. “And then growing up I was, I don’t know. But I think everything happens for a reason and I feel that I was meant to teach for it to happen. And I enjoy it a lot. I really like it so far, so that’s good.

“I love my students,” Young continued. “It’s more than just teaching the subject. It’s getting to know people and knowing what helps them, or just saying how are you might help somebody else out. I feel like getting to know my students is the best part. They’re all so nice. … Well, most of them.”

Asked if she liked coaching or teaching better, Young had a quick response.

“I think I like coaching better because I coach with him (pointing to her dad, Tony),” Young said.

Tony Young said he initially had no inkling that Delaney would want to return and teach and coach at Park.

“I had no idea that she was going to teach at Park High School,” Tony Young said. “I like it. I’m excited for it. I think she’s a huge asset to this place. I think with her track record, her academics, her athletics, her social – everything about it has been good. So that a lot of these kids when they look for someone or something, she’s a good role model. She has a good footprint.”

“I feel like we work good together,” Delaney said about coaching alongside her dad. “We balance each other out. Except if he yells, I can’t take him seriously. So, I stand in the back side and giggle.”

“It’s been a great experience,” Tony Young said of coaching with Delaney. “She keeps me level. The girls relate really well to her. They come to her for a lot of questions and stuff like that they may not ask me.”

As a softball player at Park, Young earned all-conference and all-section honors in each of her first three seasons and was all-state honorable mention as a freshman. She was a first team all-state, Minneapolis Star Tribune All-Metro and St. Paul Pioneer Press Metro Player of the Year finalist as a junior. Her Park teams qualified for state three times in four years. Her senior year she helped the Wolfpack earn a state runner-up finish in the Class AAAA tournament.

As a basketball player at Park, Delaney embraced the “bull in a China shop” role that the Wolfpack needed at the time, said Park girls' basketball coach Stephanie Tolkinen.

“I just really encouraged her that we needed a kid like her to just go push people around and I didn’t care if she scored or not,” said Tolkinen. “We just needed someone who could rebound, who could box out and she really bought into that -- just like being a bull in a China shop. She’s good with that. There’s a team that during the time when Delaney was playing that had a Monday morning meme of Delaney knocking over one of their teammates as that was their happy Monday and they showed that.”

“Tony is just so dedicated to this community and almost every type of sport there is Tony’s had his hands in these kids who come through Park High School,” Tolkinen continued. “And he does it because he loves this community. He loves the people here. And he doesn’t expect anything in return and his daughter is exactly the same way.”

Park’s B team is struggling this season. But there are lessons to be learned that transcend basketball, Delaney Young said.

“Just being a good human and playing the game the right way or being a good person and just different life lessons like showing up to practice and then you get to play and just communicating so they’re ready for life after high school,” Young said. “I feel like coach T (Tolkinen) really emphasizes making better people in the program versus basketball. I mean basketball is important, but we’re making good people for the world.”