WHEATFIELD — Doug Nelson’s short but successful tenures as girls’ basketball and baseball coach at Kankakee Valley have come to an end.
Nelson, who guided both programs at KVHS for three seasons — with one year of baseball cut short due to COVID — has decided to stay close to home by accepting a teaching position at Portage.
Currently a resident of Portage, Nelson, an Indians graduate, will likely coach freshmen boys’ basketball for friend Bryon Clouse, who was hired as Portage’s boys’ varsity basketball coach this spring. Clouse served as boys’ coach at Hanover Central at the same time Nelson was the girls’ basketball coach for the Wildcats.
Nelson left Hanover Central for River Forest in 2018 before becoming the Lady Kougars’ coach in 2019. In his three seasons in Wheatfield, Nelson led KV to three winning seasons, finishing with a 47-27 record. His teams won two sectional championships in three years, including this past winter.
Nelson made the announcement official on his Facebook page on Tuesday, saying: “Ok … secret is out! I have accepted a new teaching position at Portage High School and will no longer be at KV. We have to thank Kankakee Valley for accepting us into the Kougar family for 3 years. Amazing place. PHS is just much closer to home, obviously, and at this point of my professional career, that’s a very attractive selling point. So I will be teaching Health and possibly helping Bryon Clouse and the boys’ basketball program, but nothing is official from a coaching aspect as of now. Had a nice run at KV with 2 sectional championships in 3 years with the girls basketball program and the baseball program was making great strides. The decision to leave was not easy … the relationships that develop with students, student-athletes, staff and families make it always difficult to leave. Ann Marie Cruz Nelson and I will miss those relationships and look forward to meeting new people at Portage while continuing to learn and grow as an educator.”
Nelson also picked up his 200th win this winter and owns a 201-164 record overall.
“We got lucky and spoiled having him here,” KVHS athletic director John Gray said of Nelson’s departure. “We’re not only going to miss him as coach, but we were fortunate to have him in our athletic office. He did everything to help us out, whether it was running clock at football games, coaching Powder Puff and helping with supervision. He was a guy you could rely on.”
As baseball coach, Nelson helped put his Kougars in position to pull off the upset of the century in the 2019 sectional baseball championship. KV led No. 1 Andrean, 7-2, heading into the bottom of the seventh inning before the 59ers rallied for six runs to walk off with an 8-7 victory.
Andrean, which finished 36-1 that season and had a national ranking, would win a state championship three weeks later.
“We had Andrean on the ropes for six innings before they pulled it out,” Gray said. “The baseball program enjoyed some success with coach Nelson in the dugout.”
Gray recently posted both the varsity girls’ basketball and baseball jobs on a number of websites with hopes of securing interviews for those positions this summer.
Kankakee Valley is also looking for a varsity boys’ swim coach after Rensselaer Central graduate Ryan Standish took a teaching position at his alma mater. There is also a need for a varsity girls’ golf coach.
Steve Ganzeveld was recently rehired to run the boys’ tennis program and Gray said he hopes to have a girls’ golf coach in place after the next school board meeting on July 12.
KV’s athletic department is also in need of a freshmen volleyball coach. Anyone interested in the vacant jobs can contact Gray at the KVHS athletic office.