Coach David Dinger of the Lookout Valley High School Yellow Jackets Staff File Photo by Danielle Moore/Chattanooga Times Free Press
Pat Conard has announced her retirement as softball coach at Lookout Valley High School, and former baseball coach David Dinger has been hired as her successor.
Conard coached the softball team for 32 seasons. Under her guidance the Lady Yellow Jackets won multiple district and region championships and made five trips to the Class A state tournament, including finishing state runner-up each year from 1990 to 1992.
Lookout Valley did not have enough players to field a team in 2013. Although the 2014 Lady Jackets had limited playing experience, Conard said they did better than she expected.
"I talked to the kids the other night and told them I was not going to coach next year," said Conard, who will continue to teach at the school and will remain the head volleyball coach. "It wasn't an easy decision. I'm still kind of emotional with it. It's starting to sink in."
Dinger coached one year of baseball at Boyd-Buchanan and 22 years at Lookout Valley. He has been Lookout Valley's middle school softball coach the last three years. His assistant coach, Darren Crownover, also will be moving up to the high school team.
"Everybody loves Miss Conard," Dinger said. "She is Lookout Valley softball. She's a great lady to work with. I plan on leaning on her a lot. I'm going to need her help."
The Lady Jackets program has gone from not fielding a team two years ago to having 20 at softball tryouts for the upcoming season. Dinger said the upperclassmen seem particularly excited about the increased numbers and are eager to get started.
"David will give them a lot more energy when he takes them," Conard said. "There's a really good bunch of kids coming up, including his daughter. It's time for me to go. It's not that I don't love it anymore. They just need to go in a different direction and see what they can do."
Contact Kelley Smiddie at email@example.com or 423-757-6653. Follow him at twitter.com/KelleySmiddie.
Kelley Smiddie is a sports writer who has worked at the Times Free Press for 12 years. He covers high school sports and softball. Kelley’s hometown is Chattanooga, and he graduated from Brainerd High School and graduated Chattanooga State and UTC. Contact Kelley at 423-757-6653 or firstname.lastname@example.org.