Coach John Peterson, whose teams have won a combined 25 national championships in his 24 years, has announced that he intends to step down as head tennis coach at Tyler Junior College, effective August 31, 2011. Dash Connell, a former player for Peterson at TJC and current Assistant Coach, has been named as the interim Head Coach.
“John Peterson is a legend in the tennis community and has played a tremendous role in the Tyler Junior College Athletic Department as an Athletic Director and tennis coach,” said Athletic Director Dr. Tim Drain. “He and his wife Dorothy have played in important role in my family’s life that I will never forget, and I will miss seeing him on a daily basis. However, Coach Peterson has agreed to a part-time role in the Athletic Department to help with this transition period, and I do look forward to working with him in that capacity.”
“I am thankful to Billy Jack Doggett and Ray Van Cleef because they were so persistent in getting me to TJC,” said Coach Peterson. “I knew during my interview that it could be special place. I honestly intended to stay a year or two, and here I am nearly 25 years later.”
“I worked under three Presidents and enjoyed them all. I want to thank all the many players that made it possible for us to prosper here. I think the school has done well to award Dash the position. I wish him well and will help him and TJC in any way I can.”
Coach John Peterson began his tenure in Tyler in 1987, and his teams have experienced great success throughout the years. His men’s tennis teams have won twelve national championships, and his women’s tennis teams have thirteen national championships, including winning the title the last two years. In his 24 years at TJC, Coach Peterson’s overall men’s tennis record is 394-101 and his women’s teams are 434-88.
Peterson graduated from Buena Vista College in 1967, earning four college football letters, two basketball letters, and one track letter. He was inducted into the Buena Vista College Sports Hall of Fame in 1991, and is still their fourth leading all-time rusher with 2,463 yards from 1964-1966. He still holds their school records for most points in a season (96 in 1966) and most points in a career (252 from 1963-1966). He was named to the Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference All Conference Football Team in 1965 and 1966.
After coaching and teaching at Fort Dodge High School, he joined the U.S. Air Force in 1971. In 1975, he left the Air Force and went to Nimitz Middle School in San Antonio, Texas. He was the head of the athletic department, and taught middle school physical education and coached football, basketball, track and tennis. In 1979 he was named Head Tennis coach at San Antonio Churchill High School. His teams at Churchill were state champions in five of his eight years, and were state runner-ups twice. He also coached state individual champions, and twenty seven players from his Churchill programs were awarded scholarships to play college tennis. He was named the Texas High School Tennis Coach of the Year in 1979 and 1983.
He is a member of the NJCAA Men’s Tennis Hall of Fame, the NJCAA Women’s Tennis Hall of Fame, and is a 2007 inductee of the Texas Tennis Coaches Hall of Fame. In December of 2000, the Intercollegiate Tennis Association named Coach Peterson the Junior College National Coach of the Decade. He was the only coach named coach of the decade in both the men’s and women’s division.
Coach Peterson is married to the former Dorothy Driver and has two children and four grandchildren.
John-Paul “Dash” Connell has been an Assistant for Coach Peterson since January 2009. He played at TJC under Peterson from 2001-2003. He then played at Texas A&M from 2003-2005. After Texas A&M, he was a tennis pro at Willow Fork Country Club from 2006-2009.
In 2003, he was a First-Team NJCAA All-American and won the coveted ITA/Arthur Ashe Award for Leadership and Sportsmanship for Junior College Players. In 2002, he was named a Second-Team NJCAA All-American and won the Donnelly Award from the World Team Tennis Organization. In 2001, he was the Art Foust Sportsmanship Award at the Texas Boys’ Super 18 Championships and was the UIL 5A Doubles State Champion.
Dash is married to Shae Connell and they have two sons, Mason (2) and Emerson (2 weeks old).
“I have known Dash and his family for a long time, and I am thrilled that he has accepted this position,” said Dr. Drain. “I know he has the support of Coach Peterson, and I have no doubt he will do a great job with this program.”
“I feel blessed to have been given this opportunity by Dr. Metke, Dr. Moore, and Dr. Drain,” said Coach Connell. “I have had the chance to learn from Coach Peterson as a player and as an assistant coach, and I am very excited about the chance to contribute to such a great tradition. The continuing help of Kimm Ketelson is going to be a huge privilege that will help as well. I am looking forward to this challenge.”