Shelly Pflugrath retires as WVC Knights Fastpitch coach

WVC Knights fast pitch coach Shelly Pflugrath retires

Media Contact: Greg Franz, athletic director, 509.682.6771, or, Libby Siebens, community relations executive director, 509.682.6436

May 12, 2016

Shelly Pflugrath“I didn’t get in this to teach softball; I got in it to change lives,” said Shelly Pflugrath, Wenatchee Valley College’s fast pitch coach.

Shelly has been changing young women’s lives for 17 years. The Knights game this Saturday against Blue Mountain Community College will be her last home game. She has announced her retirement from coaching, effective at the end of the Knights 2015-16 season.

This year’s team is still in contention for the Northwest Athletic Conference (NWAC) championship tournament. If they make the playoffs again this year, it will be Shelly’s 15th trip to the tournament in her 17 seasons as head coach. During Shelly’s tenure, the fast-pitch team has had a nine-year NWAC Eastern Region Championship winning streak, and they garnered one NWAC championship.

Before she became the Knights head coach, the fast-pitch team played in the post-season only once in ten years.

“This wasn’t what I set out to create, but man, am I proud of it,” Shelly said.

The fast pitch players have consistently held some of the highest grade point averages in the NWAC, averaging GPAs of 3.3-3.6 each year. Shelly has been named NWAC East Region Coach of the Year several times, and her staff also received a National Fastpitch Coaches Association award three times, most recently in 2013.

One of her greatest accomplishments, she said, was seeing a player who thought she was defeated become someone who was proud. Shelly said she will miss the bond that she creates with her players and the day-to-day interaction.

Shelly has been involved in softball since she was five years old, when she was batgirl for her parents’ recreational teams. She didn’t intend to become a softball coach, however—she wanted to be a basketball coach. She was hired at Wenatchee High School, but they didn’t need a basketball coach. The athletic director offered her the softball coaching position instead. When she told him she didn’t know how to coach the sport, he responded, “Well, you’ll figure it out.”

She figured it out. In her third year of coaching, she decided to stop thinking the job was about winning and losing, and she stopped recruiting for talent. “You coach people, not the sport,” she said.

Shelly teaches her players to be accountable—they can’t always make the right choices, but when they make the wrong ones, they need to own those choices. She teaches them respect and discipline. Many of her players continue to stay in touch, to share accomplishments or to seek guidance.

“It’s more life than softball,” Shelly said. “You have a choice in every circumstance. You can live a life of gratitude.”

Last year, Shelly and her husband Marc lost their home in the Sleepy Hollow fire. “My life changed when I lost my home and everything I owned,” she said. Still, she sees the loss as a “gigantic blessing.”

“You have to know that you mattered to people,” she said. She received dozens of messages from current and former students—many of them not only out of town but out of state—offering to help after the fire.

Construction is almost complete on the Pflugraths’ new home. Shelly said that she and her husband “want to live simply and happily for the rest of our lives.” She intends to plant flowers around her rebuilt home and to take a year off. She will also continue teaching psychology at WVC, and she plans to find other ways to create an impact on people, but not through softball.

“I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished,” she said. “I have nothing left to prove.”