Marengo softball coach Dwain Nance admits his program is not for everyone.
Nance approaches the sport more intensely than most coaches, schedules the toughest teams he can find and wins … a lot.
The 2017 Class 3A state championship was reward enough for Nance and the Indians, but the IHSA informed him last month of another honor. Nance was named the IHSA Softball Coach of the Year for the state and thus becomes a nominee for a similar award from the National Federation of State High School Associations, which will be announced in January.
“I was shocked because it’s over the state of Illinois,” Nance said. “I thought that was pretty exciting for our program. It’s my name, but it’s a reflection of the program and the players’ hard work, the assistant coaches’ hard work, and just the community and the whole program itself.”
Marengo is 340-95 in 11 seasons under Nance, with five state tournament trophies. The Indians won state titles last season and in 2011, were runners-up in 20012 and 2014 and took fourth in 2008.
The Indians were 35-6 last season, led by pitcher Mariah Dionne, who was the Northwest Herald Softball Player of the Year.
The kids that are left at the varsity level, that really want to commit to what we’re trying to do, they have a full commitment level and a love of the game,” Nance said. “That’s the cool thing. The kids have to be driven themselves because they understand it is going to be a lot of work in the season. And out of season the expectation is they’re going to work on their game.”
Nance finds it rewarding when former players, who have moved on to college softball, return and tell him they felt well-prepared for college by what they did in high school.
The Indians have won regionals in every season Nance coached. The past five times they won sectionals, they went to the state tournament.
“It’s hard to sustain success, and we’ve been able to do that at the state level,” he said. “It’s a very difficult thing to do. Our kids and our coaching staff show up every year, ready to go and put a lot of time and effort into it. They do a lot in the offseason too. It’s a nice tradition that we embrace and we talk about upholding our traditions, so it’s a nice motivator for some of our kids.”