Kansas’s winningest coach retires


West head coach Jesse Nelson, from Olpe, Kan. during the McDonald’s All-American girls basketball game, Wednesday, March 30, 2016, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Matt Marton)

OLPE (KSNT) – Kansas’s winningest high school girl’s basketball coach announced that he will be retiring after 44 years.

Olpe High School girl’s basketball coach Jesse Nelson announced his retirement with four state championships and 951 wins to his credit.

“Jesse has been the foundation of our girl’s program. But after 44 years we know this time was coming, and it looks like it is here now,” Olpe High School Principal Shane Clark said.

Nelson gives credit to the students he coached.

“My kids are so great, I’ve never pretended I would have won over 900 games without the kids.”

Jesse Nelson

Nelson said he feels very fortunate to have had great kids, good parents and a great assistant coach, Caroline Davis.

(Photo courtesy SEK Sports)

Davis was a freshman player on Nelson’s first team as a head coach. Davis is retiring this year as well.

Nelson’s decision to retire is in part because of his health. He has been dealing with pain and has admittedly not been feeling well for the last several years.

“I did not want to get into a season and bow out. If I felt better I would coach till I drop,” Nelson said.

When asked what he will miss most, Nelson said the day to day relationship with the kids. He said he was driven by the expressions on the kid’s faces when they would win.

Nelson who said he “fell into” coaching the girl’s team believes his temperament and style were suited to coaching girls. “We were just a good match,” Nelson said. “I’ve never regretted it, it’s been a good fit.”

In 2012 with his 732nd win Nelson became the winningest girl’s basketball coach in Kansas history.

In 2021 the Olpe Eagles girl’s basketball team won the 1A Division state championship with a 25-0 record.

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