Traci Nemechek, who coached the Dakota Ridge girls basketball team to the 5A state tournament in each of her 11 seasons at the helm, was fired last month, athletic director Matt Heckel confirmed to the Columbine Courier.
“There were a lot of factors that were involved with it that led us to that conclusion,” Heckel said.
Nemechek, who teaches social studies at Dakota Ridge, was 177-92 during her tenure as head coach, including 106-32 in the 5A Jeffco League. The Lady Eagles were 7-17 overall last season.
Prior to coming to Dakota Ridge, she served five years as an assistant coach at the University of Southern California. She led Dakota Ridge to the 5A Final Four in her second season in 2003-04, losing to eventual state champion ThunderRidge.
The Lady Eagles made three straight Sweet 16 appearances in the following years before reaching the Great Eight in 2007-08. But Dakota Ridge, which won five 5A Jeffco League titles under Nemechek, haven’t gotten past the second round of the state playoffs since.
“She’s a valued coach who did a great job, and I appreciate that,” Heckel said.
Nemechek, who declined to comment on her dismissal, coached Dakota Ridge to an undefeated league mark in 2006-07 and to 22 victories in 2007-08. Eleven of her players throughout the years have gone on to play in college.
Dakota Ridge alumnus Kylie Morris, who played for Nemechek from 2009-12, was surprised by Nemechek’s release.
“It was definitely quite a shocker. I was heartbroken,” the University of Denver student said. “I’ve only known Dakota Ridge basketball with Coach Chek. … The program, overall, was one of my biggest values growing up. It’s definitely hard to hear the news, especially since it’s been so successful.”
Morris expressed concern for the players who are still in the program, considering the Lady Eagles will graduate only one player — Solveig Nelson — from the 2012-13 season.
“I worry for the girls still in the program and what direction this will take them. The values instilled go so deep in the program,” Morris said. “Coach Chek was excited with the way the season ended, even though I know it wasn’t a very successful season.”
Nemechek was a three-time 5A Jeffco League Coach of the Year and a former 5A Coach of the Year.
This is the second head coaching position to open at Dakota Ridge in the past month. Varsity softball coach Dave Atencio resigned before spring break to take the same position at Valor Christian.
There is no set timeline to hiring a new girls basketball coach, though Heckel hopes to have one in place before the end of the school year.
Contact Michael Hicks at firstname.lastname@example.org or 303-933-2233, ext. 15.