Softball West Magazine

May 2003, Volume 21, No. 3
Four Corners Report ... Page 6


Nancy Ellis looks back on a great softball career

By Mark Rhodes
...MESA, AZ - Give Nancy Ellis credit, she knows how to go out on top! Last year, Ellis retired as head softball coach at Dobson High School (Mesa). The announcement came just ten days prior to being named the National High School Coach of the Year by the National High School Athletic Coaches Association.
..."The award was selected a few months before I retired but wasn't announced until 10 days after I retired," said Ellis, "I was very surprised and honored to receive the National Coach of the Year."
...But after 33 years of being a head coach, Ellis felt it was time to step aside from coaching softball.
..."I was a varsity coach (softball) for 33 years. Being the varsity head coach takes a whole lot of time and energy and at the age of 50+, it was time for me to let someone else pull the reigns at Dobson," said Ellis.
...But Ellis isn't done with Dobson ... or coaching.
...The energetic Ellis still coaches Dobson's badminton team, is the PE Department chairman, a PE teacher, a computer tech for the high school, the fitness center director, ACA sports rep., and also does the Dobson High Web Page. And if that wasn't enough, Ellis is a part time
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volunteer with the softball program at Basha High School in Chandler, Arizona. One has to wonder how she ever had time to coach softball at Dobson?
...Ellis's stay at Dobson produced a state title in 1990, going 340-230 in the process. Also she won a state title in 1970 in California She finished with a career record of 570-334 coaching softball, ending a journey that started back at Arizona State almost 40 years ago.
..."I was on the first Arizona State University softball team coached by Mary Littlewood in the mid-60's. I competed in almost every team sport available at ASU from 1964-1968. When I graduated from college, I went to California to play softball and badminton and be a PE teacher and coach. The earthquake of 1970 gave me ideas to get out of there and buy some beach front property in Mesa, since I though California was going to drop off into the ocean ... and I didn't like earthquakes."
...After spending three years in California, Ellis returned to Arizona in 1971, getting a job at the old Mesa High School at a time when there was only one other high school (Westwood) in Mesa (there is now six high schools in Mesa).
...At Mesa, the versatile Ellis continued her knack for playing (and excelling) at new sports.

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Retired coach Nancy Ellis goes out on top.
Photo courtesy of Ellis.


..."In 1972, we moved out to the new Mesa High School and it had racquetball courts, and since I was supposed to teach that sport I decided to go to Golden's Health Spa and learn the game. I mastered it, and six months later I was the Arizona State champion.
.. I picked up a sponsor and traveled around on weekends competing nationally in racquetball."
...Ellis coached three sports for the first 20 years she taught but had to make a decision in 1990 to cut back to two sports. "In 1990, they switched softball (in Arizona) from the winter to the spring and I had to choose between softball and track ... and I chose my favorite: softball (to go along with the badminton)."
..."I have coached just about every sport known to mankind and enjoyed every minute of it. I still help with the senior ACA all-star game every summer to honor seniors before they move on to college," added Ellis. "I have personally competed in five sports on a nation level: tennis, badminton, racquetball, softball, and judo; but I love to coach young ladies."
...Ellis has many fond softball memories, but it's not winning games she remembers the most.
..."I have more great memories than is fair for any one person to have. I have had the opportunity to coach in the 60's, 70's, 80's, 90's, and 2000's. But the winning is not my best memories; it's everything else involved in coaching: sharing, bus trips, crazy practices, weight room workouts, locker room stuff, watching kids grow up and seeing them mature (eventually)," said Ellis, who plans on retiring from teaching in June, 2007.


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Updatd: 5.30.03