CONWAY, S.C. -- The Coastal Carolina University athletic department has announced that long-time softball coach Jess Dannelly will retire as head coach following the upcoming 2009 season.
"The past 25 years have been a great time for me and my family," Dannelly said. "Not only have I watched my kids grow up and graduate from Coastal Carolina University, but I have had the privilege of having so many quality young ladies come through our program. Building this from almost the ground floor, I am so proud of what we accomplished here, both on and off the field, and now what those former players and assistant coaches are doing in their lives. Those relationships are what means the most to me and will continue to be a part of my life away from the diamond.
"But there have been so many great people and great memories of the game, both from our team as well as those we have gone against, that I will cherish as we built this program to regional and national prominence,"
Dannelly continued. "I also appreciate all of the summer league coaches and organizers for their help all these years on the recruiting trail. Finally, I want to thank the University for the opportunity to be the softball coach here for all these years. I look forward to my final season as the leader of this program and then focusing my attention to my other role as Associate A.D. full time next year."
Dannelly will enter his 22nd season with 654 career victories, and will look to expand on his already impressive resume that includes seven Big South Conference Coach of the Year Awards, six Big South Regular Season titles, five Big South Tournament Championships, and four NCAA Regional appearances.
His 2006 squad earned him his most recent Big South Regular season and tournament championships, as well as another NCAA Regional appearance. The 2006 campaign also saw Dannelly reach the 600-career win mark, and pick up his seventh Big South Coach of the Year award.
Dannelly’s 2001 team helped him reach the 400-career win mark, as well as a Big South title and an NCAA Regional appearance. At the time, the Chants became the first female team in Big South Conference history to earn a victory in an NCAA Championship event. Coastal Carolina traveled to the NCAA Region 5 tournament, and eliminated #21 Florida Atlantic and Penn State before falling to Arizona State. The success in the NCAA Tournament earned the Chants national attention, and a ranking of 29th in the nation at the close of the season.
His 1994 squad is known as possibly that best team to have ever to play in the Big South Conference. The team posted a 44-15 record, and had the NCAA Academic Athlete of the Year, the Big South Player of the Year, Big South Rookie of the Year, and four All-Conference players. The 44 victories set a school record which still stands.
“Jess Dannelly has been an integral part of the development of softball at Coastal Carolina University and the Big South Conference," Coastal Carolina Athletic Director Warren "Moose" Koegel said. "His teams have competed on the highest level nationally, and they have been wonderful ambassadors for Coastal Carolina University on and off the field. Jess will be missed by many in the world of collegiate softball and all of the entire Chanticleer family wishes Jess and his team great success in his final year as head coach.”
Dannelly will remain with the university as an Associate Athletic Director in charge of facilities, a position he has held since his arrival in Conway in 1984.
WHAT COACHES AROUND THE NATION ARE SAYING ABOUT DANNELLY
Team USA and University of Arizona Head Coach Mike Candrea
I have known Jess for a long time and have always enjoyed my time with him, discussing the game and many, many more topics. Jess has done a wonderful job with Coastal Carolina over the years being able to bring in good talent and making them better. I have always enjoyed his sense of humor and his true passion for the sport and "his" university. Congrats to Jess and I will look forward to seeing him in Myrtle Beach in January.
Kennesaw State Head Coach Scott Whitlock
Jess was one of the pioneers for collegiate softball in the south. His knowledge, and his willingness to share it, has touched hundreds of players and coaches. The game is better for having had a Jess Dannelly in it. I have great respect for him. Certain relationships are developed over one’s career. I am honored and fortunate to call Jess Dannelly my friend. Over the years, his family and mine have become quite close. His two sons (“Q” and Travis) are like nephews to me; and, his lovely wife, Wendy, is so very special (and a saint)! I’m the oldest of four children, but if I had a “big brother”, I would want it to be someone like Jess.
LouisianaState Head Coach Yvette Girouard
Jess Dannelly is one of the true good guys in our world of collegiate softball. An imposing figure on the field, Jess is admired and respected by many in this profession. I will always consider myself lucky to be called his friend and wish he and his family untold happiness in their days ahead with this retirement.
North Carolina Head Coach Donna J. Papa
Jess has done an outstanding job as the longtime softball coach at Coastal Carolina. We have played some exciting games over the years as friendly rivals. I have enjoyed his humor and friendship over the years working camps together, attending conventions, and recruiting. He has always had his players best interest at heart and has always fielded top teams and produced some outstanding players in his conference. I wish him well going forward and will miss his many southern expressions.
Tennessee Co-Head Coach Ralph Weekly
Karen (co-head coach Weekly), Marty (assistant coach McDaniel) and I have known Jess for several years and have always been impressed by his leadership, knowledge and ability to coach the game of softball. He is one of the true pioneers of our sport and a person we respect as both a mentor and friend. We wish him well in his retirement.
Radford Head Coach Mickey Dean
Coach Dannelly has done so much for the game of softball and me personally. It's funny. I see these items in softball magazines, selling for a lot of money, and I tell people all the time, "Jess Dannelly was making some of these items by hand years before someone else put a patent on them and started to sell them." That's what I admire about Jess. It has never been about the money or notoriety. He has always done this for the game and the kids. There are many who will miss Coach Dannelly ,especially since he is responsible for getting many of us started. I wish him the best of luck and you may want to let him know that I will still be calling on him for advice.