Nelson Succeeds Stiles As East Hamilton Softball Coach

Veteran Of 25 Years Was Fired At Ooltewah In May

Monday, July 1, 2013 - by Larry Fleming

Norma Nelson, who was fired as Ooltewah High School’s softball coach on May 14 after 25 years at the school, has been hired to lead East Hamilton’s program.

Nelson succeeds Cara Stiles, who coached the Lady Hurricanes softball team for the past three years before stepping down to take an 11-month sabbatical.

Nelson, 49, was dismissed at Ooltewah after serving first as an assistant and the past 20 seasons as the Lady Owls’ head coach. She led Ooltewah to state championships in 1990, 1992 and 2008 and had runner-up finishes in 1994, 1995 and 1997  in her first four seasons with the Lady Owls.

East Hamilton athletic director Brad Jackson said that Nelson’s hiring was finalized Monday morning. Nelson and East Hamilton principal Gail Chuy had discussions about the Lady Hurricanes job last week, Jackson said.

“Norma brings a lot of experience to our coaching staff,” Jackson said. “She is highly regarded in the softball community. I know there were some things that happened at Ooltewah, but we’re excited to have her and I think she’ll do a great job.

“We hated to lose Cara for many reasons, one being that she did a great job here. But Norma brings an old-school mentality that I believe will go over very well here.”

Nelson, the winningest coach in Ooltewah history – in any sport – with more than 600 victories, was given a 24-hour ultimatum by Ooltewah principal Mark Bean to either resign or be fired. Nelson refused to resign and was fired the next day.

“I told (Bean) I would not quit on these girls because I’ve asked them not to quit on me,” Nelson said at the time.

Nelson could remember only one game between East Hamilton and Ooltewah and it was rained out after three innings.

“I don’t know many of the East Hamilton girls,” Nelson said Monday. “I could probably pick out three or four of them. They weren’t in our district and that one time we played them was in a tournament. We didn’t play them at all last year.”

East Hamilton, which competed in District 6-AA since the school opened, will join Ooltewah, Bradley Central, Cleveland, McMinn County, Soddy-Daisy and Walker Valley in District 5-AAA for the 2013-14 school year in the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association’s new four-year district alignment.

“It will be hard playing Ooltewah,” said Nelson, who will remain on the Ooltewah faculty in 2013-14 with hopes of moving to East Hamilton the following year. “They’ve always been my kids and I told them they would always be my kids and that I’d do anything for them, but I will do anything and everything to beat them. Still, it’s going to be difficult when we got over to that Ooltewah field.”

At Ooltewah, Nelson served as the District 5 chairperson for softball and hopes to continue in that role when the coaches meet in September.

Nelson also plans to continue as an assistant coach at Gordon Lee High School in Chickamauga, Ga., for “at least” one more year. Georgia plays softball in the fall while Tennessee varsity teams play a spring schedule, culminating with the state tournaments in the Spring Fling in late June.

“This will be my sixth year down there and I do it because I love the game. (Gordon Lee coach) Dana (Mull) is pregnant and expecting a baby after this coming season and I’ve really enjoyed working with her down there. My first priority, however, will be East Hamilton.”

Gordon Lee went 35-3 last season and swept Georgia Military in a two-game series (6-4 and 4-1) to win the Class A state championship.

Jackson said Nelson’s assistant will be determined in the next two weeks and that current assistant Hollie Pritchett is a possibility. Pritchett is a non-faculty coach and if she’s willing to help with the middle school program that “probably will take place,” Jackson said.

TSSAA middle school softball teams play a fall schedule – East Hamilton tryouts are scheduled for Aug. 14 – with the varsity playing in the spring.

“All that will depend on other people out there that Norma might talk to in the next week or so,” Jackson said.

Nelson, a 1989 graduate from East Ridge High School where she played softball, was promoted to the head softball coaching position in 1994, succeeding Jim Lovell, and finished second in the state tournament in three of her first four seasons.

Nelson accounted for three of Ooltewah’s five team state titles. Lovell won a softball championship in 1982 and the school’s girls basketball team captured a title in 1975.

In her last two seasons at Ooltewah, the Lady Owls went 29-14 and 22-15.

The veteran coach said Monday she’s thankful for the opportunity to coach softball at East Hamilton.

“It’s a great school, they’ve had softball success and I hope to build on that and keep it going,” Nelson said. “I’m a very happy person today.”

Jackson said Nelson is inheriting a talented group of young players in part because Stiles has built such a solid foundation for the softball program, highlighted by Spring Fling appearances in the last two seasons.

The Lady Hurricanes, who claimed their first district championship this past season, lose only two seniors – Maria Walshe and Shaliyah Geathers. The rest of the 2012-13 roster was made up of eight freshmen, three sophomores and three juniors.

Prior to joining the Lady Hurricanes, Stiles coached at Rhea County, leaving the Lady Golden Eagles’ program on May 25, 2011, to take over for Holly Hamilton at East Hamilton, 2011. Pritchett made the move from Rhea County with Stiles, who played at Soddy-Daisy High and Memphis University.

(E-mail Larry Fleming at larryfleming44@gmail.com)

 

 




Dalton State Women's Golf Releases Spring Schedule

The #2-ranked Dalton State Women's Golf team has released their 2018 Spring schedule. It features five events in four different states and will allow the Lady Birds to see the nations best before the NAIA National Championships. "I am really looking forward to our spring schedule," said DS Women's Coach  Jim McGrew . "We are changing things up a little so as to see more ... (click for more)

Randy Smith: Vols Face Cuonzo Tonight

I have always liked Cuonzo Martin.  He was always easy to work with during his three-year tenure as head coach at the University of Tennessee. When Dane Bradshaw and I substituted for Bert Bertelkamp and Bob Kesling on the Vol Network at the San Juan Puerto Rico Classic in 2012, Coach Martin sent me a nice letter thanking me for my efforts in broadcasting the Vols' games. If ... (click for more)

BlueCross Sells Huge Tract Along River For $8.1 Million

BlueCross BlueShield has sold a huge tract along the riverfront in Lupton City for $8.1 million. The purchaser is listed as Riverton LLC., 651 E. 4th St., Suite 403, Chattanooga. BlueCross had bought the 216-acre site in 2001 as a possible site for its corporate headquarters. However, it wound up building a $299 million campus on Cameron Hill instead. BlueCross started ... (click for more)

1 Person Injured In Duplex Fire In East Lake Wednesday Night

One person was injured when fire broke out in a duplex Wednesday night in East Lake. The Chattanooga Fire Department received the alarm at  11:53  p.m. on  Wednesday  and responded to the 4800 block of General Thomas Boulevard with several fire companies. When the first firefighters arrived on the scene, Captain Chris Cordes with Engine 9 said a significant ... (click for more)

Thank You, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Thank you, Dr. King for stepping-out.  Thank you for your lasting voice to what it's all about. Thank you, Dr. King for  stepping up and also showing-up, ...when decisions were being made and  your refusal  to shut-up.  We find your fingerprints on both directions and toward progress.  your modeling, mentoring,  and reactions helps ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Kids Are Still Funny

I have never seen nor heard of a child actually getting one’s “head pinched off” but by modern-day standards the threat just switched in overdrive. There are children in our communities who haven’t been to school for six long days and the brutal temperatures drove the little darlings to inside where they most predictably stirred up all manner of mayhem. Back when I was in Elementary ... (click for more)