Sequim coach Mel Hendrickson, right, has a conversation with umpires in a spring 2010 league game. Hendrickson is stepping down from the head coach position after eight years. Sequim Gazette photo by Michael Dashiell
After eight successful but tiring seasons, Sequim fastpitch coach Mel Hendrickson is done.
The Wolves’ most successful softball coach told Sequim High athletic director Dave Ditlefsen on June 11 that he’s not returning to lead the ball club in the spring of 2011.
“I felt it was time,” Hendrickson said. “I was getting a little bit burned out on practices. They can bring someone in fresh and excited, do a better job.”
Hendrickson helped Sequim to seven consecutive district tournaments and four state appearances. Hendrickson led the Wolves to the school’s first-ever state playoff win in 2004 and a fifth-place finish in 2007.
Ditlefsen said the decision did not come as a surprise.
“He kind of hinted at this during the season,” Ditlefsen said.
“We’ve already had several people inquire (about the job),” Ditlefsen said, adding that the school likely will fill the position in the fall when school starts up again.
“I think there’s some good young coaches that can step in,” Hendrickson said.
The Wolves return all but two starters from last year’s squad that fell just two wins short of the 2A state tourney. The returning seven starters are all all-league players, including Olympic League co-MVP Lea Hopson.
Miss the game, the players Hendrickson said one of his on-the-field highlights includes knocking off North Mason in 2006 for the Nisqually League championship — the first time anyone’s done that in the past decade.
But the Sequim coach said the best part of his job was simply being with the players and high school staff.
“I met a lot of nice young girls (and) I enjoyed the interactions with the kids,” he said. Athletes who played for Hendrickson would stop by to talk, and one — star pitcher Jessica Rosencrants — came back as his assistant in 2010.
“I’ll miss the interaction with the school and other coaches, especially Dave Ditlefsen (also Sequim’s baseball coach); he helped me a lot,” Hendrickson said. “(I’ll miss) getting to know the boys baseball players from being on the bus and the connection with the school.”
Hendrickson started coaching Little League teams several years before he took the high school job in 2003.
In 12 years, he coached several select all-star teams and the 2003 Babe Ruth 16U girls team that placed fifth at the Softball World Series in Louisville, Ky.
He also coached both his daughters — Taria and Lauren — from young ages through their senior year at SHS. Lauren graduated last week.
“Sometimes that’s hard on kids,” Hendrickson said, “(but) they did a real good balancing the coach-dad thing. I was never dad on the field. I tried to treat them as players. I was probably less favorable of them and rode them harder than the other girls.”
By next spring, instead of gearing up for another season, Hendrickson said he figures he’ll be into other hobbies — hunting, hiking, trout fishing and brushing up on his small-plane flying skills.
Reach Michael Dashiell at firstname.lastname@example.org.