As a little girl growing up in Kansas, Shelley Dinges, head coach for the varsity girls golf and tennis programs, came from a large family. She was one of six kids and her dad worked hard and loved the game of golf.
“I just wanted to spend time with my dad and being one of six kids, golf was a way to get one on one time with him,” said Coach Dinges. She never realized that the time she spent bonding and building this relationship with her father on the golf course would turn into, not only their shared love of the game, but that she would go on to inspire and share her lifelong passion with many student-athletes over the years.
Coach Dinges has worn many hats over her tenure at Notre Dame Prep. Not only is she the girls golf and girls tennis head coach and newly appointed Director of Christian Service, but in 2018, she was named Assistant Director of Alumni Engagement, a role which she felt is integral to the growth of the school and just another way to create a legacy and to continue to pass it on.
She started her coaching career in Kansas, and in 2003 she became the golf and tennis coach at NDP. She has had a storied and award-winning coaching career. Coach Dinges has more wins, state championships and state runner-up honors than any other coach in the history of NDP.
Dinges has been named the Arizona Interscholastic Association Coach of the Year for tennis or golf 11 times and she was also awarded the title of United States Tennis Association-Central Arizona “Coach of the Year” in 2016. Most recently, during the 2018-2019 season, she went undefeated with the tennis team and led them to another AIA Championship round.
Dinges is very excited about the upcoming golf and tennis seasons. “With a whole new golf team that has been going through a rebuild,” stated Dinges, “many new girls will have the opportunity to play and learn the game of golf,” which she feels is important especially for young women.
With the departures of many of the seniors the new golf season will give juniors Jordan Ashcraft and Brooke Benson the opportunity to step up to the tee and take a swing at being the leaders of the girls golf team. The returning tennis team is young but strong, and there are many incoming student-athletes who have potential and are competitive.
With new teams and new seasons, Coach Dinges feels very confident that both teams will be going out, playing their hardest, and winning many rounds and matches this year.
Whether on the course or on the court, she is always encouraging. Her coaching style is tough love. “She is very tough on us when she needs to be, but we all know she is only doing it out of love for us and the sport and she wants us to do the best we can,” Ashcraft said.
Coach Dinges reflected on her coaching style and commented that she learned it from the coaches she respected the most. “The coaches that made me a better player because they believed in me is the kind of coach I want to be,” said Dinges.
She sets her expectations high for all her players but is never unrealistic about them. Her favorite part of coaching is her ability to help her athletes achieve goals they never thought they could. “It’s so exciting to see one of my players, for example, get her first birdie,” said Dinges.
That time spent on the golf course as a little girl with her dad provided Coach Dinges with a lifelong love of the game, the desire to pass her knowledge on to future generations, and the willingness to help grow the school through alumni support and create a legacy. Her legacy will go unmatched at Notre Dame. Dinges said, “Even when I’m ninety I’m going to be out there playing golf.”