MINDEN -- After two successful varsity seasons, Rick Smith has stepped down as Douglas High's head softball coach.
Smith, who succeeded Ken Carr, carved out a 53-23 record in his two varsity seasons, taking the Tigers to the zone playoffs both years. Douglas came within one game of the state playoffs this year, losing to McQueen 9-8, finishing fourth in the process. He won one junior varsity championship.
Smith said he turned in his resignation to Steve Wilcox, athletic director, approximately 10 days ago.
"I'd been thinking about it for quite a while," Smith said. "I was hoping to stay until Stevie (his daughter) graduated. We had a family discussion about it. I was fortunate enough to be able to do this in the first place.
"I'm self-employed, and I was losing too much business. I had to make a decision. I have to put food on the table. I hated to do it."
Wilcox was sorry to see Smith go.
"Make no mistake about it, he could have coached here as long as he wanted to," Wilcox said. "I have nothing to say negative about Rick. I've never had anybody here that worked as hard as he did. He did a great job."
One of the things that makes Smith's decision tough is that the Tigers return seven starters, and are an odds-on favorite to make next year's state tournament.
"I'm leaving the program in good shape talent-wise," Smith said. "It could be one of the best teams Douglas has had in the last 10 or 12 years since the time the team won state."
Indeed. The Tigers return seven starters, including pitcher Katie Pagen, pitcher-outfielder Brittany Puzey, pitcher-first baseman Kayla Dunn, catcher Valerie Smith and third baseman-first baseman Stevie Smith.
Smith said that he would be willing to serve as an assistant coach for whoever is hired by the school.
"Whoever came in, I would help as much as my job would allow," Smith said. "Softball is pretty much a year-round commitment. I wasn't able to give all that (time) this year.
"It wasn't fair to the school, the softball program or the girls. If there was anyway I could help, I'd be glad to do that."
Wilcox said the softball job must be opened to district employees first before it goes on the open market.
A popular choice would be Jim Puzey, whose daughter, Brittany, is on the DHS team. The elder Puzey coaches the Nevada Comets, who are off to an 11-0 start. He was an assistant at Carson last season.