YORK – On August 28, 2008 the York High School softball program began, and since that time it has been flying high under the leadership of head coach Danyel Seevers and assistant coach Phil Seevers.
For the past 11 years the program has quickly developed into one of the best in the state, and on Wednesday Seevers announced on Twitter that her 12th season would be her last as the head coach of the Dukes.
Seevers said in an interview on Wednesday that it was time to focus on her family.
“We have spent a quarter of our life doing what we love and watching kids play a game we love while building relationships with great young women,” Seevers said. “However, we now have Karlee as a sophomore in college at Nebraska, Abbey a high school senior and Ryan a high school freshman. We have been coaching not just high school but just as long in the summer since Ryan was three. We feel it’s time to not have to miss out on his activities and enjoy our college girls next year.”
Seevers added that a recent health scare in the family sealed the deal for her and Phil.
In her first season, the Dukes posted a record of 7-17. They didn’t have to wait long to get that first win for the school as they defeated Hastings 7-2 in the second game in school history. The first ever game for the Dukes was a 10-1 loss to Class C Friend.
One of Seever’s memories over the last 11 years was something that happened at that game.
“One of my memories is a story in our family that we still laugh at. We get the win at Hastings and Phil, who didn’t coach that first year, was in charge of parenting Ryan,” Danyel said. “Long story short, he had to take Ryan to the ER at Hastings to have staples put in his head after a bleacher incident. I remember coaching third base as they were headed to the hospital wondering ‘what did I get myself into.’”
Year two saw the Dukes finish 15-19 and ended the season as district runner-ups.
In 2010 York went 18-14, and since that time the Dukes have not won less than 18 games a season up until the present time.
“Our second year of existence we earned district runner-up and that was great momentum for us to let people know that we wanted to not just play the game of softball in York but we wanted to make statements as York Duke softball,” Seevers said.
“The first district championship game at Norfolk was also a great sense of accomplishment, and stopping in Columbus on the way home so the girls could play in the park is something a little out of the ordinary, but if you knew this group it was awesome. But really, every conference and district championship and state appearance has been etched in my mind forever.”
In 2012 the Dukes posted a 27-3 record in the regular season and made their first ever appearance in the Class B state tournament as the No. 2 seed. They finished that year with a 28-5 mark and went 1-2 at state. Their first ever win at state came against Seward (6-1) after dropping a tough 9-6 decision to Elkhorn in the first round.
Since the start of the 2008 season, Seevers has rolled to a coaching record of 265-95. From 2012-2018 the Dukes had a winning percentage of .887 with a record of 173-22, the best of any team in the state.
York made six consecutive trips to the Class B state championships (2012-2018). The Dukes were Central Conference champions in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2017, and district champions from 2012-2016. Seevers was also voted twice to coach in the Nebraska Coaches Association All-Star Game.
The Dukes’ best finish at state came in 2013 when they entered the tournament with a record of 32-1 and were the No. 1 seed. They fought back after a loss to Blair in the second round and defeated the Bears in the consolation final to earn a shot at the Omaha Skutt Skyhawks.
York led Skutt 1-0 in the first game of the championship, but Skutt scored two in the bottom of the seventh for the 2-1 win. York ended that year with a 36-3 mark.
“We obviously had some very dedicated kids in our program throughout the years that worked so hard to make our programs successful. When you are successful the younger kids watch and want to be a part of that,” Seevers said. “That’s what it’s all about, is younger kids looking up to our players and wanting to someday be a York Duke softball player. I feel that has helped softball grow in our community.”
Along with coaching the Dukes in the fall, the Seevers and a dedicated group of softball parents started the Fusion softball program to help build the Dukes into the powerhouse they are today. Both Danyel and Phil coached their daughters’ teams all those years.
The summer Fusion programs that both Danyel and Phil have coached are responsible for nine state championships from 2009-2016.
“We would not have the successful program that we have had if it was not for the assistants and volunteer coaches that have put in many hours to help with both York Duke softball and the Fusion softball programs,” Seevers said.
Over the past 11 seasons, Seevers feels that the best part of working with the girls has been the relationships she has built with them that goes beyond softball and into their adult lives.
“It’s the little moments. The times that you know a player has struggled with an aspect of their game and worked hard to master a skill, and they finally accomplish it. Seeing that smile and getting that hug … those are the times that mean the most,” Seevers said.
“I hope that they mostly see that even though I demanded the best out of our players, I loved them and still do. It has been great to have these women contact me after graduation with their struggles, accomplishments, weddings, babies, etc..,” Seevers said fighting back tears. “I know this statement is over used, but relationships have been the best part about coaching and I hope the girls feel the same way with their teammates and coaches.”