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Olpe’s Jesse Nelson retires after 44 years, 951 wins

Updated: May. 25, 2021 at 2:48 PM CDT
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OLPE, Kan. (WIBW) - Longtime Olpe girls basketball coach Jesse Nelson retires as the winningest coach in Kansas history.

44 years, 951 wins, four state championships — but he won’t take the credit.

“All those kinds of awards for coaches, they’re nice to get the recognition, but they’re all player awards,” Nelson said. “They’re what kids have done.”

Among his many accolades, Nelson was named the 2014 USA Today America’s Best Girls Basketball Coach National Champion.

He was later chosen to coach the 2016 McDonald’s All-American game.

“What drives me is seeing the expressions and the looks on girls’ faces when they win games they shouldn’t win or they win those great big games — the game that sends you to the State tournament,” he said. “That’s what I think keeps me going, has kept me going for so long. That’s probably the part I’ll miss the most.”

The 2021 KBCA High School Coach of the Year got a proper send off in that regard.

In his final season, the Eagles went 25-0 en route to a 1A Division I State title.

“I’ve always looked at is as I get to go along with them, I get to ride along with them, but it’s really things that a great group of kids have done,” Nelson said. “And I’ve had nothing but really good kids to work with over that time.”

His advice to those who may follow in his footsteps: even as you teach, remain a student.

“There’s something to learn from every coach, from every game, and certainly every practice that you get to see,” he said.

Nelson says he couldn’t have done any of it without his wife and family. He plans to spend more quality time with his five grandkids during retirement.

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