ABILENE – Earlier this year, the Abilene ISD Athletics Department implemented a new award to honor its coaches at both the middle school and high school levels, and the winners as the November Coaches of the Month are Madison Middle School’s Dala Sanders and AISD swimming coach Kelly McNamee.

Sanders – a graduate of McMurry University – is in her 29th year of teaching and coaching and serves as the Girls’ Athletics Coordinator at Madison. She coaches volleyball, basketball and track for the Lady Bison.

“I knew from an early age that I wanted to teach and coach,” Sanders said. “I had several inspirational teachers and coaches that helped convince me that I should follow my heart and enter education. I love kids and find it very rewarding to see them grow into successful young women. I have a passion for sports and I feel very fortunate to be a part of the teaching and coaching family in AISD. Most importantly, I love being part of the “HERD” at Madison.”

Her decision to follow the advice of her coaching mentors to follow her heart and enter public education as a teacher and a coach has helped her mold girls into young women, including this year’s crop of students at Madison.

“Coach Sanders helps us more than you can imagine,” one of Coach Sanders’ student-athletes said. “She is very patient and engaging. She takes the time to make sure that we understand what she is coaching and always challenges us in a positive way.”

McNamee – also a graduate of McMurry University – is in her fifth year of teaching and coaching. In addition to teaching art at Abilene High School, McNamee coaches both the boys and girls swim teams at Abilene and Cooper high schools.

“I have always had a passion for swimming,” McNamee said. “I enjoy teaching others what I have learned about swimming from my mentors. I coach because I love seeing swimmers improve year after year and reach those goals that they thought might not be attainable. I am very grateful to work with these dedicated, talented, hardworking, fun, and truly awesome young athletes!”

Those student-athletes, in turn, are grateful to swim for a coach like McNamee.

“Coach McNamee cares about every swimmer at AHS and CHS,” one of her student-athletes said. “She gives the same amount of attention to each swimmer regardless of ability. She pushes all of us to be the best we can possibly be and focuses on constant improvement. She has fostered a family atmosphere within the swimming program and we are glad to call her our coach.”