Hardball

How softball coach Holly Nuber won the state championship -- and lost her job

A few minutes before the Council presentation begins, Nuber appears wearing her trademark maroon fedora. A team father mumbles that he's surprised to see her, but no one boos or hisses. The players scoot to make room for her on the front row.

Mayor Tom Reid asks Nuber whether she has anything to say, and she talks a little about the hard work and team spirit behind the championship. "They are a great group of girls," she says. The words get stuck in her throat, and she ends the speech there.

After the Council meeting, Lea Mishlan doesn't say much to the coach. Other girls hug Nuber good-bye. Outfielder Ashley Oswald protests that the firing was unfair. "I'm upset," she says. "She was my friend." Melissa Coronado asks Nuber to sign a softball.

Nuber then heads to Pearland High, walks to the athletic field and settles onto a metal bench. The sky is pink and dotted with clouds. "I guess I'll see the rest of the games from the bleachers," she says.

She has until the end of the month to decide whether she'll return to her teaching job at Pearland High. She says she's still thinking. She likes teaching health, and has won teaching awards. But she's not sure whether she's willing to work at a school that won't allow her to coach.

She hasn't yet abandoned all hope of regaining her coaching job, though. "Sometimes you teach best what you need to learn," she says. She looks across the empty baseball diamond. "I need to do what I tell the kids .... I have to stand up for myself.

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