Ellis is national Coach of Year
The Arizona Republic / July 6,
When Nancy Ellis started coaching high school softball in
1968, she never expected her career to end like this.
Ellis retired as coach of Mesa Dobson High's softball
team June 18 after more than three decades as a coach. Ten
days later she was named national Coach of the Year by the
National High School Coaches Association.
"It's more than I ever thought I'd get," Ellis said. "You
just don't think about winning something like this. Probably
the biggest is that I retired just 10 days before the
presentation, but nobody knew I was
retiring. It was decided before I announced my retirement.
It was cool, it wasn't a 'she's retiring, let's give it to
"It's just a perfect finish to a great career. You can't
get any higher than that. I was inducted into the Arizona
coaches' Hall of Fame in 1996, and I thought that was as
high as I would go. I hadn't thought about winning something
for the entire country."
Ellis has been the association's Region 8 (representing
Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah)
Coach of the Year four times, including this year. Her teams
at Dobson have won three region championships and one state
Overall her teams have a 570-334 record (340-230 at
Dobson) and have won 10 region championships and state
titles in 1970 and 1990.
Ellis caps career with top award
BY LES WILLSEY / TRIBUNE
It wasnt live, but a Memorex-type experience was
just fine for retired Dobson High School softball coach
Ellis, a longtime coach at Dobson, Mesa High and in
California, for the first time this summer missed a National
High School Athletic Coaches Association coaching clinic and
convention she faithfully attended. Ellis missed the
gathering to care for her parents.
At the convention, she was announced on June 28 as the
NHSACA coach of the year for 2002. Shortly afterward, she
received a phone call with the news.
As one of eight region coaches of the year, Ellis was
automatically nominated for the national honor.
Whats outstanding is the award was
decided before my retirement was announced,
Ellis, a 33-year coaching veteran, said. The
process begins in January. I have always told myself I would
never retire during the middle of a season. Id wait
until the season was over, weigh the decision with no
distractions. . . . Winning this is a fantastic thing to
finish off my career in softball.
This years regional coaching award was Ellis
fourth such honor (she also won region honors in 1993, 1996
and 1998). Her career coaching record is 570 wins and 334
losses; 340 of the wins coming at Dobson.
Ellis, whose teams won 10 region titles and two state
titles, has maintained the same exuberance for softball
and sports in general throughout her career. She said a
key to her longevity was not taking things too
If youre going to stick around doing
anything for 33 years you need to keep an even
keel, Ellis said. Sometimes you
forget about all the people you touched, and those who have
touched you. But you look back and realize it and remember
how much fun you had.
One concern Ellis has in her retirement is who will
watch over Red Mountain softball coach Rich Pikosz.
Pikosz is known for getting animated on occasion during a
game. Ellis wants to know a calming influence will be on
hand when those occasions arise.
I know a few times when we played them
hed be close to blowing a gasket over a
call, Ellis said, tongue-in-cheek.
I'd walk over to the third-base coaching box and
tell his girls in the dugout if it becomes an emergency
situation, I know CPR. Im there to
Just as shes been for the last 33 years.