Mike Nelson has been named the new head coach of Raider Softball. Nelson replaces Amber Coburn, who recently relocated to North Dakota, after just one season with the program.
Nelson returns to the Raiders, where he was an assistant coach for three seasons – from 2010-2012 – under former head coach, Mark Edmonston. Edmonston was with the Raiders for fourteen years; serving as an assistant from 2004-2007, before taking over the program in 2008. He left after the 2017 season as the all-time winningest coach in the history of Pierce College Athletics, collecting 262 wins over ten seasons.
During Nelson’s previous stint with the Raiders, the program won two West Region titles (2010 & 2011), and captured 5th Place at the 2011 NWAACC Championships – the program’s highest tournament finish since 1984. The program had an overall record of 67-46 in his three seasons, and tied a program record with 37 wins in 2011. Over those three season, the Raider produced 23 West Region All-Stars, 2 West Region MVP’s, 1 West Region Pitcher of the Year, and 1 NFCA All-American.
Nelson has served as a head coach with the Diamond Dusters Girls Fastpitch Organization, since 2005. His 2016 14U team were champions of the NAFA Northwest Summer Nationals, and his 2014 18U team captured third place. In 2014, Nelson was honored as the first youth level coach inducted into the NAFA Hall of Fame.
“We are vey excited to have Mike back with the program”, said Pierce College athletic director, Duncan Stevenson. “He was with us during one of the most successful stretches in the history of Raider Softball. He understands the NWAC, and knows what it takes to build a top-level competitive program. His long tenure with the Diamond Dusters and Fury Girls Fastpitch orgnaizations, will give him a huge leg up in recruiting the top local talent.”
Coach Nelson has high expectations for the program. “I am honored to have the opportunity to return as the Raiders’ next head coach”, said Nelson. “We will stress the little things in the game. Proficiency in the basic fundamentals leads to the game becoming easier to play. Teaching not only the how, but the why. In the long run, a better understanding of what we are doing leads to more confidence. That confidence can translate into other positive experiences, not only on the field, but off as well. We want to create an environment that stresses fun. After all, it’s a game!”
Joining Nelson’s coaching staff are two Raider alums. Tiffany (Qualls) Weed (’06 & ’07) served as a member of the Raiders coaching staff from 2008-2012. During her playing days, Weed was a two-time West Region All-Star, led the Raiders offense in ’07 with a .517 average (5th highest in the NWAACC), and finished with a .451 career average. Aryn Knutsen (’11 & ’12) was a two-time West Region All-Star outfielder for the Raiders, and hit .429 her sophomore season. Last year, Knutsen was the head coach of the varsity squad at Clover Park High School. Also joining the staff is Val Charron. Charron has coached with Nelson in the Diamond Dusters organization the past ten years.
Nelson will be entering his inaugural season as the Raiders head coach with five returning sophomores and eight incoming freshmen letter of intent signees. The Raiders start Fall practice on September 8, and will participate in the NWAC Fall Showcase, in Portland, on September 22.