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Estep praises others at HOF induction

WILLOW WOOD — Jeff “Odie” Estep walked onto the stage alone, but he brought hundreds of others with him in spirit.

Estep credited former players and coaches for his induction into the Ohio High School Softball Coaches Association Hall of Fame last month.

“Really this award goes to my former players and assistant coaches. Without those people’s help and talents, I’d never get this award,” said Estep.

“I’ve had a lot of good help. Chuck Renfroe taught me a lot about the game.”

Estep was voted into its Hall of Fame last year but wasn’t officially inducted until Jan. 18 in Columbus.

Even though he had nearly a year to digest the honor, Estep admitted it was still hard to accept the reality of the award.

“It was a great ceremony and I had great support. It was a great honor. It’s the greatest I’ve ever gotten and the greatest I’ll ever get,” said Estep.

“It’s something that 17 years ago when I started I never thought I get. I watched a lot of people walk across that stage, but I never dreamed I would be up there one day.”

Estep, 45, has coached 16 years as a head coach and 17 overall including one season as an assistant, all at Symmes Valley.

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, currently has more than 2,000 points.

Estep has 277 career victories 127, 11 Southern Ohio Conference championships, nine SOC coach of the year awards and two in the now defunct SVAC, and eight district Coach of the Year honors.

His teams won two SVAC league titles.

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. On two occasions his teams reached the regional finals.

Besides the players, Estep also mention other people who have helped him along the way, especially his assistant coaches Jeff Saunders, Greg Harmon, Joe Martin, Randall Sharp and Renfroe who spent 14 seasons with the Lady Vikings.

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.

Estep and his wife, Patty, have two children, a son Hunter, 7, and daughter Emily, 5.