Purge hits DHS softball

Durango Herald file photo

Former Durango High School softball player Abby Surmeier was one of the many put through the paces the last five seasons by DHS head coach John Bernazzani. Bernazzani announced his resignation Saturday, citing time constraints.

By Ryan Owens Herald staff writer

It’s been a lively offseason for coaching changes in the Durango area, and Saturday was no exception as Durango High School softball lost its bench boss.

John Bernazzani, citing time constraints, stepped down as head coach of the Demons after five seasons at the helm and one as an assistant.

“I just figure it’s time,” Bernazzani said. “With what we set out to accomplish between (DHS athletic director) Sheldon (Keresey) and I and enhancing the program, and I think we’ve done that, turned it around and kind of got it up off the floor.”

DHS went 36-59 in Bernazzani’s tenure but had some breakthroughs in recent years. The Demons made their first-ever Class 4A playoff appearance and went 12-8 in 2011 before narrowly missing out on another postseason berth with a 9-10 mark in 2012.

He’s also been instrumental in the growth of the Durango Danger youth softball program alongside Don Ford and has put in countless hours of work into the recent development of a softball diamond behind DHS, where the Demons have practiced the last two seasons and possibly could host games in the future.

As far as his involvement with local softball and his volunteer work with the DHS baseball program, Bernazzani doesn’t expect entirely to fade away.

“I certainly enjoy helping out and the growing and teaching aspects of softball,” he said.

Bernazzani, also a former Fort Lewis College assistant softball coach, took a job as a licensed real estate broker with Keller Williams Realty in July of last year and has been active in the real estate community in Las Vegas since 1989. He’s hoping to be even more active in Las Vegas while maintaining his new workload here in Durango.

“It’s been good, and I’ve got to concentrate on my real estate business here and Las Vegas. ... If there’s one main reason, that’d probably be it,” he said.

The extra time also will give him more chances to watch his daughter, DHS junior Bella Bernazzani, play soccer in the spring and volleyball in the fall.

“I certainly want to spend more time with my family,” he said.

Bernazzani said he was thankful for the support he received in his five years from Keresey, DHS administrators and the school district, and he said when he looks back at his time as head coach, two memories will stick out.

“The first trip to the postseason, but also being voted by my peers and all the coaching staff and activities and head coaches at the high school as coach of the year for DHS in 2011,” he said. “Conference coach of the year is always a good thing ... (but) I think for me, it meant a lot more to get the award from the school voted on by everyone there with me.”


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