Marengo's Dwain Nance has been a perennial candidate for the Northwest Herald Softball Coach of the Year for over a decade, leading the Indians to five Class 3A state tournament appearances in 11 seasons.
Nance earned the honor in his first year (2007), and again when the Indians won the school's first state title in 2011. For leading Marengo back to state and winning for the second time, Nance has been named the 2017 Northwest Herald Softball Coach of the Year, as voted on by the sports staff.
Marengo finished 35-6, a win shy of the school record for wins set in 2012, taking first in the inaugural season of the Kishwaukee River Conference. Nance's teams have collected 33 or more wins in six out of the past eight seasons.
He is 431-137-1 in 15 years overall, going 340-94-1 with five state trophies at Marengo: two firsts (2011, 2017), two seconds (2012, 2015), and one fourth (2008). The avid fisherman took a break out of his most recent fishing trip to talk softball, his biggest influence and his newest pair of Crocs.
What are you up to this summer?
Nance: I'm going to do lots of fishing. We have a family trip planned to Maine, and we go to Door County. That's where we're at now. At the end of June and beginning of July, we're going to Lake of the Woods in Ontario, Canada. I'll fish anywhere.
What's the biggest fish you've ever caught?
Nance: The biggest bass I've ever caught was a large mouth and a small mouth. I've caught two different ones at 6 pounds, 10 ounces.
Who has made the biggest impression on you as a coach?
Nance: That list could be long, but I'm going to say Tom Scott. He's the one who got me into softball back in 1998. I was student teaching at Clinton, Illinois, and he was the JV coach at the time. He's the one who asked me to start helping him coach and then the next year, he was the varsity coach, so he hired me as the JV coach. He really inspires me and has done a great job of leading me along the way. He deserves a lot of credit.
Do you have any rituals or superstitions?
Nance: During the postseason, I always had to wear the same shirt and shorts, so it was a lot of laundry going on.
What are your three favorite movies?
Nance: "For Love of the Game" with Kevin Costner, "Tommy Boy" with Chris Farley, and "Up in the Air" with George Clooney and Anna Kendrick.
Who made you laughter the most?
Nance: (Freshman) Mikayla Wzientek. She's just a goofy kid. After every game or practice, we always did "Three Positives," and she would always come up with some good ones.
Who was an unheralded player from your team that you'll remember for a long time?
Nance: I'm going to say (senior shortstop) Leah Secor, but, obviously, everybody knows about her. For four years, that kid showed up to every game, every practice, and worked hard. She was so easy to coach, she never talked back, and she did exactly what she was supposed to do. She made things a lot easier for me as a coach.
If you could have a sandwich named in your honor, what would be on it and what would you call it?
Nance: I don't even eat fish, so it can't be anything with fish. It would be buffalo chicken, and the name would be the "Nance-O-Nater." I have a pitch that accidentally hits the screen when I pitch live to the girls and it goes off the screen one way or another. They call it the "Nance-O-Nater."
What is one of your biggest pet peeves?
Nance: When teams don't throw perpendicular to the foul line. You've got to throw perpendicular to the foul line. Some of these teams show up and they throw parallel to it. It's a huge pet peeve of mine.
What is one of the funniest things that happened in the dugout this season?
Nance: I'm not sure about the dugout, but we were coming home from Metamora in April. It was raining and (senior first baseman) Megan Anthony did slip and fall in a puddle and it was kind of funny. All of the kids made fun of her about it.
What is something most people don't know about you?
Nance: I own a pair of Crocs now. That's what the girls got me for a coach's gift, and, actually, they're really comfortable, too. They got our manager, Jake Barton, a pair of Crocs for helping us out and they got me a pair. I wore them all throughout the postseason, but, obviously, not when I was coaching.