Neshoba Central coach Trae Embry was honored last Wednesday during the National High School Athletic Coaches Association awards banquet.

It was part of the association’s national convention and was held in Sioux Falls, S.D.

Embry was one of eight finalists for the association’s Coach of the Year award for softball. Softball was one of 19 sports in which the association recognizes a National Coach of the Year. Nominations came for across the nation. Eight finalists were named in each sport earlier this year and each were invited to attend the banquet where the national Coach of the Year. All received a special award for making the final eight.

To be named as a finalist was a “great honor” in itself, Embry said. Last week, Embry had been named the USA Today National Coach of the Year after leading the Lady Rockets to their sixth straight state championship in fast-pitch and finishing undefeated at 34-0. The Lady Rockets were named the No. 1 team in the nation according to the USA Today poll.

“The guy who won National Coach of the Year had been coaching for 49 years,” Embry said. “I felt good for him. There were several coaches there who had been in the final eight three or four times. Maybe I will get another chance.

“It was a good vacation and a long trip. I am ready to get back to Philadelphia.”

Gene Victor of Cibola High School in Albuquerque, N.M. received the award for 2018.

Since taking over the Neshoba Central softball program in 2012, Embry’s teams have won 12 straight state championships – six in fast-pitch and six in slow-pitch. He also won five at Eupora, giving him the total of 17 state softball championships.

While at Neshoba Central, his teams have gone 183-21 in slow-pitch and 185-13 in fast-pitch. During the slow-pitch season last fall, Embry earned his 800th career coaching victory. Following the fast-pitch season, his combined coaching record stands at 841-176.

Embry may get a week or so off to rest up from the trip. But the slow-pitch season is just around the corner. The annual Neshoba Central jamboree is set for August 4.