OLPE (KSNT) — A legendary high school basketball coach is retiring. Coach Jesse Nelson has coached girls basketball at Olpe High School for 44 years and has had numerous accomplishments along the way.
“We had a 71-game winning streak at one point, 72-game winning streak. We are in a 51 game winning streak right now,” Nelson said.
The biggest accomplishment has been his 951 wins, which is more than any other high school basketball coach in the state. But it’s not the numbers that matter to “Koach,” it’s the lasting relationships he has made along the way.
“It takes so many different things to have that kind of success and I think the biggest thing is that my kids and I are a good fit for each other,” Nelson said. “I think my coaching style and the type of kid that I get, they just kind of match up.”
The players have made a lasting impression in his mind, but the students, alumni and current players said he has made an even bigger impression on them.
“The thing I most admire from him is that he never took credit for all these wins,” Carolyn Davis, the Olpe girls basketball assistant coach, said. “It always went to the kids and it was always because we had good parents and good kids and in a good community.”
They’ve shared laughter along the way as well.
“We left one of our teammates at a restaurant we were at. Just as a joke,” Marlee Heins, a girls basketball 2021 graduate, said.
They’ve also learned some lessons.
“I think a lot of it was the motivation. I probably was not the top player he had, but I gave everything I had at practice,” Beth Skalsky, a girls basketball 1999 graduate said.
Nelson credits his family for being his rock throughout his coaching career. They have supported him through all the wins and the few losses, supporting a man who is described by his team as dedicated, humble, successful, legendary, devoted, strong, wise and especially, inspiring.
Nelson calls himself “Koach” because when he first started coaching he said he was not ready to earn the “C” in coach. After his 44 years, many would agree he has earned the “C” and so much more.