LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The National Fastpitch Coaches Association is honored to announce that member coaches Michele Holaday (Rock Creek HS), Melissa Lee (Augsburg College) and Veronica “Roni” Miller (York College [Neb.]) are the 2016 recipients of the Mary Nutter Scholarship. Each coach is a proud alum of their respective programs.
The educational grant, named for the former Pittsburg State (Kan.) head coach and 1997 NFCA Hall of Fame inductee who founded National Sports Clinics, seeks to continue Nutter’s effort to provide softball coaches at all levels access to the best minds in the sport to help them become better coaches themselves. Recipients receive funding to attend the 2016 NFCA National Convention, Dec. 7-10 in New Orleans, where they can improve their skills at educational seminars and through interaction with their fellow convention attendees.
Holaday has been an assistant coach at Rock Creek (St. George, Kan.) High School for 10 years, while balancing a full time job at Kansas State. She has a passion and love for the game and initially became interested in the NFCA thanks to her aunt Brenda, who served the organization in several capacities.
“Michele has been an incredible mind and presence for our team,” said Rock Creek head coach Jeri Brummett. “Michelle met Mary (Nutter) and I believe Mary would agree that she is exactly the kind of coach that kids deserve and that benefits from the convention.”
Lee, Augsburg’s interim head coach, was named to the position after 12 years as the program’s assistant. Due to an allotted budget and other duties held at the college, Lee has been unable to attend the convention since 2012.
“I would like to attend the NFCA Convention to have and ability to learn from my colleagues in an educational setting and network with others at all levels in the softball industry,” said Lee.
Attributing to help build the program as a player, Miller returned to York as the head coach in 2015. Under her guidance, the Panthers doubled their win total to 10 in Miller’s first season at the helm, and last season they were three shy of doubling it again, finishing with 17 victories. As a player, she played an instrumental role in convincing the President of the college of keep the program by finding a new coach and recruiting players. Two years later in her senior year, York won a program-record 32 games in 2000 and qualified for its first NAIA regionals.
“I have dreamed of going to the NFCA Convention every year, but due to a small budget I cannot afford it,” said Miller. “Following York College through the years, I’ve dreamed of changing the program again and when the athletic director asked if I’d be interested in the job, I couldn’t say no. The process is slow, but I know that our talent is there.”
Nutter, who died suddenly in July 2012 while vacationing in Colorado, compiled a 204-125 record over eight years at Pittsburg State, which was an NAIA school at the time. She got her start in coaching with three years as a graduate assistant at Michigan State, after seven years as a teacher in nearby Elsie, Mich.
In 1981, Nutter won the first of three NAIA District 10 titles and the first of her three District 10 Coach of the Year honors (1981, 1982, 1985). That 1981 squad finished fourth at the NAIA national championship and she served as an assistant coach for the 1983 Pan American Tri-Nationals team and was a member of the 1984 U.S. Pan American selection committee. Nutter was an 1988 inductee into the NAIA Hall of Fame.
As a player, Nutter was a two-time first-team All-American (1974-75) for the Lansing Laurels, an ASA Women’s Major fastpitch team and spent 1976 as player-coach for the Michigan Travelers of the Women’s Professional Softball League.