GALVESTON

Galveston College bids farewell to the only head softball coach the Whitecaps have ever known at a retirement reception Tuesday before his retirement became official Friday.

Ken Delcambre, Galveston College’s athletic director and head softball coach, brought to an end a 20-year run with the Whitecaps and, overall, a 35-year coaching career with his retirement announcement.

In 1998, Delcambre, then an assistant softball coach at Alvin Community College, was hired by Galveston College to head up the school’s brand-new softball program. At the time, there was no telling how long I would stay, Delcambre said.

“Actually, I thought I’d be here maybe three years, and here it is 20 years later,” Delcambre said. “The place is such a great place to work with the support from the staff, faculty and administrators. They made every day a joy to come to work.”

Delcambre’s career accomplishments include more than 700 wins, two NJCAA national tournament appearances, being named NFCA regional coaching staff of the year, coaching a team that finished top 10 in the nation, and coaching 10 NJCAA All-Americans, four NFCA All-Americans and three Olympians.

Delcambre said some of his favorite memories from his coaching career at Galveston College include his team’s first trip to the NJCAA national tournament in 2002 and seeing three of his former players go on to play for their respective national teams — two for Canada and one for The Netherlands.

“I think just getting up and coming to work every day was a joy, and that’s why I stayed around so long,” Delcambre said.

Over the years, many players have kept in contact and reflect fondly on their time at Galveston College, Delcambre said.

“They say this was one of the best experiences of their life, at Galveston College,” Delcambre said.

Delcambre said his favorite thing about coaching softball has been seeing so many different types of talent come through his program, and then seeing those players learn more about the game and go on to success — on the field and off of it.

“The most pride that I’ve had is getting these girls to graduate and helping them through their college careers, and hopefully they learned something that would help them down the road,” Delcambre said.

One of those former pupils who has found success after leaving Galveston College is Marissa Garza, who recently took over the youth sports program director position at Moody Methodist and teaches kindergarten at Burnet Elementary. Garza, who played for Delcambre from the fall of 2012 to the spring of 2014, said he instilled structure and discipline into all of his athletes.

“He’s tougher than a box of nails,” Garza said. “He was out there in the heat every day with us in practice. He is one tough cookie. He’s an awesome guy. You want to play for coach Delcambre because he’s so well-known. He knows every coach. He’ll get you where you want to be.”

There’s also a lighter side to Delcambre, according to Jamie Mead, who played infield for the Whitecaps the last two seasons. Delcambre was infamous for his epic “dad jokes,” Mead said.

“He liked to joke around and stuff, so that was always funny,” Mead said.

Garza said she one day hopes to be an athletic director and have a similarly impactful career as Delcambre’s.

“I want to be like him, because he’s the face of Galveston College, and I want to be the face of some place some day,” Garza said.

Filling Delcambre’s sizable shoes as Galveston College’s new head softball coach and athletic director will be Christa Hartnett. Hartnett was Delcambre’s assistant coach last season, and was an assistant for UT-Tyler’s softball program for two years prior to that.

“It’s a dream come true,” Hartnett said. “I’ve always wanted to be a head coach, and it’s a blessing to have this opportunity.”

As for retired life, Delcambre, who lives in Alvin, said he plans to work on projects at his home, do some traveling and spend more time with his grandchildren.

James LaCombe: 409-683-5242, james.lacombe@galvnews.com or on Twitter @JamesAtGalvNews

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