Estep to join Ohio softball coaches#8217; Hall of Fame

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 3, 2007

AID — During his coaching career, Jeff “Odie” Estep has tried to stay in the shadows and let the spotlight shine on his players.

However, this time he can’t escape the bright lights.

The Ohio High School Softball Coaches Association voted Estep into its Hall of Fame last Thursday. Although he is a member of the 2007 class, Estep won’t be inducted into the Hall of Fame until in Jan. 18, 2008.

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“This isn’t a spotlight on me. This is a spotlight on the whole community,” Estep said. “I didn’t get there by myself. It took a whole bunch of people in the Symmes Valley community to get there.”

Estep, 43, has coached 16 years as a head coach and 17 overall including one season as an assistant, all at Symmes Valley.

“To get this kind of award is more than coaching. You have to have excellent kids, excellent parents, an excellent administration and an excellent athletic director,” Estep said.

“But the kids are the main thing. They have to be willing to work hard and be willing to make sacrifices.”

Candidates for the hall of fame must have at least 800 points based on wins, tournament wins, conference titles and service as an association officer. Estep, who is the district vice president, has 1,992 points.

Estep has 265 career victories, 11 Southern Ohio Conference championship, 11 SOC coach of the year awards, and three district Coach of the Year honors.

He has guided the Lady Vikings to three district titles and a regional crown in 2005 when Symmes Valley finished as the Division IV state runners-up.

“I was surprised. I didn’t know it was happening. I’ve been coaching a little of everything for a lot of years. This is the biggest honor I’ve ever had as far as coaching high school ball. It’s the biggest honor I’ll ever get,” Estep said.

Besides the players, Estep said there have been a lot of other people who have helped him along the way, especially his assistant coaches Jeff Saunders, Greg Harmon, Joe Martin, Randall Sharp and Chuck Renfroe who spent 14 seasons with the Lady Vikings.

“You have to be surrounded by good assistant coaches, too, and I’ve had a lot of good ones,” Estep said.

“I learned a lot from my assistants. Chuck Renfroe taught me a lot about the game.

Estep becomes the second softball coach from Lawrence Country to be honored by the Coaches’ Association. South Point’s Jan Keatley was inducted in 1998.

“Jan Keatley did so much for softball in Southeast Ohio that goes beyond the wins. If she thought we were getting the short end of things, she let the people at the state know,” Estep said.