PREP SPORTS: Dellis leaves post as NU athletic director after 5 years of rebuilding culture, facilities
The relationships. The immeasurable bonds formed with students, athletes, coaches, his staff, the administration, community members and athletic directors across the state; those are what Jeff Dellis said he will cherish above all else.
“Fostering and maintaining those relationships is really what I will miss the most,” said Dellis, who is stepping away from his positions as a teacher and athletic director at Nevada Union. “A lot of like-minded people, who love their sport like I do and want to see it played at a high level, and for kids to have the opportunities that they so richly deserve.”
Dellis first started teaching in the district in 1992 and joined Nevada Union’s staff in 1996 where he taught government and economics. While at NU, Dellis also coached boys basketball for several seasons and held the title of athletic director for the past five years.
“He’s one of those special human beings,” said community volunteer and close friend Marty Lombardi. “His values, the way he has conducted himself, the manner in which he mentors students; it’s special. The students just love him.”
Dellis is headed to Monterey High School where he will teach government and economics. Trisha Dellis, Jeff’s wife, accepted a position in the Carmel Unified School District in May, leaving her position as superintendent of the Nevada City School District, a position she held since 2015.
Jeff called the decision to leave his post as NU’s athletic director, “gut-wrenching.”
“Neither Trish nor I ever thought we’d leave until retirement, but a certain set of circumstances led us to this decision,” Jeff said. “It is incredibly difficult to leave this area because this is where my wife’s family is, where I’ve grown as a teacher and as a man. This will always be home.”
When Jeff took over as Nevada Union’s AD in the fall of 2014, his first order of business was to create a new culture within NU Athletics. Guided by the principles of wanting to leave the program better than he found it and being part of something bigger than himself, Jeff went to work developing a new criteria for athletic success that wasn’t based solely on how things played out on the scoreboard.
“Athletics has the potential to be transformational, not just transactional,” said Jeff. “My coaches bought into that culture change. That the student-athletes could still have an enriching and valuable experience above and beyond league and section titles … Our coaches saw the opportunity and seized the opportunity to teach a lot of life lessons. Coaches bought into programs like Coaching Boys Into Men, Athlete Committed and most recently the InSideOut Coaching Initiative.”
While focused on developing a new culture for current and future student athletes, Jeff also wanted to celebrate NU’s storied past. He was the driving force behind the development of the Nevada Union Athletics Hall of Fame, which inducted its first class in 2016 and has been inducting past Miner greats annually ever since.
Jeff also viewed the athletic facilities around campus as an extension of the classroom and wanted to make those classrooms appealing to students and educators. During Jeff’s five year tenure several facilities received major upgrades. A new all-weather track, new turf field and a new scoreboard went in at Hooper Stadium. Baseball’s varsity field also got a new scoreboard. The athletics program was also able to renovate the strength and conditioning center and bring in new equipment thanks to the Walk-A-Thon fundraiser. Miner Vision also came about during Dellis’ time as AD, offering students another avenue to be involved with athletics. Miner Vision is a student-run streaming service which covers NU sports and events.
“The culture of Nevada Union Athletics is in a better place, and I think it’s attractive again for teachers and other staff members to coach,” said Jeff, adding, “I’m humbled and blessed to be able to serve my community this way, and this will always be my community.”
While Jeff’s efforts led to upgrades in culture and facilities, it also led to more success on the field.
When Jeff stepped into the role of AD, Nevada Union athletic teams were competing in the Sierra Foothill League, a powerhouse conference which boasted several schools with much larger enrollments than that of NU. While the Miners struggled through the SFL days, once realigned into the Foothill Valley League in 2018, success quickly followed. In Dellis’ final year as AD, Nevada Union teams won four league titles and two Sac-Joaquin Section Championships.
“It’s validating,” he said. “Given the opportunity to compete with like-sized schools, we can be successful, and I will predict continued success over the next couple of years.”
Across his more than 20 years at Nevada Union, as a teacher, a coach, a mentor, a colleague and an athletic director, Jeff forged many lasting relationships. I’m fortunate to be one of the people who developed a relationship with Jeff. I first met Jeff when he coached my eighth grade flag football team at Pleasant Valley Elementary School in 1995. I’ve known Jeff as a coach, as an educator, as a source and most importantly as a friend. We in this community are bidding farewell a great person and role model. We can only hope that the void left by his departure is filled by someone who holds the same high standards and principles.
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email email@example.com.
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