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6:11 AM Wed, Sept. 19th

ALL-COURIER VOLLEYBALL: Prescott coach Bowman's strength on, off court shines through

Matt Hinshaw/The Daily Courier<br>Prescott head coach Shellie Bowman instructs her players during a timeout against Flagstaff in their home opener back on Sept. 12, 2013.

Matt Hinshaw/The Daily Courier<br>Prescott head coach Shellie Bowman instructs her players during a timeout against Flagstaff in their home opener back on Sept. 12, 2013.

This fall, Shellie Bowman's courage away from the gym became as apparent as her tried and true leadership on the sideline of any volleyball court.

While the second-year Prescott High coach was mentoring her Lady Badgers players to a 14-3 overall record in power-point matches and a berth into the 16-team Division 2 state tournament, she was nursing herself back to health.

Diagnosed over the summer with Stage 1 breast cancer, Bowman, 50, later underwent a lumpectomy and began chemotherapy treatments in August.

But she didn't stop coaching, attending as many practices and matches as her body, mind and spirit would allow.

Although Bowman's cancer is now in remission, her courage and dedication in the face of a daunting challenge didn't go unnoticed by those closest to her in the PHS community.

For what she did both under and away from the bright lights, the Daily Courier has named Bowman its high school volleyball Coach of the Year for the second straight autumn.

Bowman, who starts six weeks of radiation therapy next week, said she's feeling well and plans to continue coaching the Lady Badgers next season.

"Hopefully my health will be a lot better and I'll have a lot more energy next year," Bowman said in a phone interview this past week. "The girls did a really good job, and they're great kids."

Prescott sophomore setter Raphael Temple said she respects what Bowman did for the team while tending to her illness.

"Considering what Shellie went through during the season, it was amazing," Temple said. "She showed up to every single practice and every single game that she could. And she always kept supporting us and encouraging us to do better. She had awesome support, and she's just a genuine, kind person all around."

Lady Badgers starting sophomore middle blocker Veronica Norkus agreed with her teammate about Bowman's sheer will to persevere.

"I think she's one of the strongest people you'll ever meet," Norkus said. "Even with all she went through, she still had the best personality. She always had a smile on her face. She's someone I really look up to for being able to do that."

In mid-October, Bowman thanked those in the Prescott High family, including her players, for their unwavering support.

For example, when the Lady Badgers' assistant volleyball coaches learned of Bowman's diagnosis, they stepped in to mentor the team whenever she needed it during the season.

"I still have a long ways to go, but I've had a ton of help - and not just my family," Bowman told the Courier nearly two months ago. "It's really helped me being in coaching, and being around the girls has helped me a ton - just keep me going."

Follow Doug Cook on Twitter: @dougout_dc