LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The National Fastpitch Coaches Association is honored to announce that member coaches Amanda Fazzari (Illinois Wesleyan University), Caitlynn Dykes (Susquehanna University) and Missy Keith (Ursuline Academy) are the 2017 recipients of the Mary Nutter Scholarship and Southwest High School’s Sandra Hernandez is the winner of the Diversity Grant.
The Mary Nutter Scholarship is an 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.
The Diversity Grant, created by the NFCA’s Diversity Committee, is awarded to a minority member coach who shows a commitment to working with minorities and growing the game of fastpitch in their communities and has a need for financial assistance to attend the convention.
Recipients receive funding to attend the 2017 NFCA National Convention, Dec. 6-9 in Las Vegas where they can improve their skills at educational seminars and through interaction with their fellow convention attendees.
Amanda Fazzari, Assistant Coach, Illinois Wesleyan
Fazzari enters her second season in the dugout of her alma mater. The 2014 graduate and three-year letter winner is currently pursuing her master’s degree in kinesiology and recreation sports management at Illinois State, while also working as a graduate assistant in Illinois State’s compliance office. She still finds time be a volunteer coach, camp instructor and clinic attendee to better herself and learn from experienced professionals.
Tiffany Prager, Illinois Wesleyan head coach- “Amanda exemplifies everything you would want in a scholarship associated with the kind, generous and passionate person that Mary Nutter was. Amanda truly loves teaching and growing the game. The convention will provide an opportunity for her to network and learn from the most successful coaches. The assistance & resources provided by the NFCA are invaluable to her coaching journey. I cannot think of a more deserving recipient.”
Caitlynn Dykes, Assistant Coach, Susquehanna
Dykes enters her second season as an assistant on head coach Brad Posner’s staff. A 2016 graduate of Trinity University, she was a three-time All-West Region selection and was the 2012 Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference Newcomer and Player of the Year. A native of Beaumont, Texas, Dykes is currently on a mission to help out the town she grew up in after it was hit by hurricane Harvey.
Missy Keith, Ursuline Academy (Ohio)
Keith is in her fourth year as head coach, and also serves as a secretary at Ursuline. She has a passion for the game and is extremely grateful for the opportunity to learn the higher-level aspects of softball at the 2017 NFCA Convention.
Keith - “I believe almost every lesson and character trait needed to navigate life can be learned by playing this game.”
Sandra Hernandez, Southwest High School (Texas)
Hernandez, head coach and physical education instructor at Southwest High School, has run a two-day summer camp for her community in the Southside of San Antonio the past 11 years. Donating her time, field and resources, she breaks the camp into two age groups (second-fifth grade / 6th-9th grade) with all Southside residents attending free of charge. Attendance has steadily grown, reaching an average of 60 the past several years.
“I believe that softball is a game that teaches life lessons that will help our minority females become successful long after they are done playing,” said Hernandez. “I always stress how hard this game is to my student-athletes, and I always stress how with hard work you can overcome any challenge.”
One of her proudest moments is when Southwest’s home field was the host of the San Antonio All-Star game. While it showcased 36 athletes in a nine-inning game, any young athlete who wore a softball uniform was admitted for free.
Hernandez believes the best way to improve the boundaries and challenges minority females face is to continue showing the world what softball can do for them.
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 a 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.