The North Bend Eagle

 

Nelson steps down after 16 years coaching softball

by Nathan Arneal
Published 11/14/18

NBC will soon be looking for its second softball coach.

Dan Nelson, who has been the Tiger softball coach since the program’s 2003 inception, has announced his retirement from the sport.

Nelson, 52, will continue teaching special education at NBC and serving as the student council sponsor, but his days on the diamond are done after 16 seasons.

NBC softball coachesDan Nelson, left, and assistant Kyle Meyer are both retiring from coaching NBC softball. Nelson has been the program’s only head coach after starting the Tiger softball team in 2003.

He is looking forward to having his summers off to watch his son Trevor, who will graduate from NBC next spring and hopes to pursue a college baseball career.

“I’ve been thinking about retiring for probably the last six years and just could never pull the trigger,” Nelson said. “I just thought it was time to give someone else a shot.”

Also stepping down from softball coaching is Nelson’s assistant of four years, Kyle Meyer. Nelson said there are multiple people on the NBC faculty who have expressed interest in the coaching positions, and the administration will be interviewing and filling the softball jobs in December.

The NBC softball program became a reality in March 2003. Superintendant Jim Havelka told Nelson the goal was to get 13 girls out. That fall exactly 13 players went out.

“It was crazy that first year,” Nelson said. “What was great was Mr. Havelka was very supportive. He didn’t give me a blank check, but he said you have more freedom than other coaches are going to, beings as we were just getting started.”

The program started with a bang, even setting a state record in its first outing. On Aug. 29, 2003, Nelson coached the first Tiger softball game with his parents in the stands in his hometown against his alma mater, Raymond Central.

Freshman Courtney Dunker went 5-for-5 in that first game, tying the state record at the time for hits in a game. As a rookie coach, Nelson wasn’t aware of the record nor did he know how to submit a new state record. He tried to submit it later, but he was told too much time had elapsed to count it as a record.

The Tigers went on to win that inaugural game 8-2 with a still-school record 22 hits. After the game, Nelson could barely get a word out. Not because he was overly emotional, but because he was the team’s only coach he had to coach the whole field from the third base box. He had freshman Stephanie Suva coaching first base.

“Well, Stephanie hadn’t played a lot of softball, so I’m coaching third, coaching the batter, and yet I’m still hollering across the field,” Nelson said. “So by the time we got to the fifth inning, my voice was pretty shot.”

The Tigers finished 3-13 that first season but were trending upward. In 2004, the program added a co-op with Scribner-Snyder and won 10 games.

The program achieved its first winning record in 2005, finishing 15-14.
In 2006, four players who were freshman the year the program began formed the nucleus of what would turn out to be Nelson’s best team. Seniors Hannah Mensik, Jackie Dirkschneider, Denise Wilcox and Suva led the Tigers to an 18-9 record with a team that was rated as high as No. 7 in Class C during the season.

A group of Scribner-Snyder athletes also made strong contributions, including senior Morgan Smeal, who led the Tigers in batting each of her three seasons in the program, and senior Sam Tienken, who joined junior Megan Jensen to form an effective pitching duo.

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