Originally Published: November 22, 2014 6:01 a.m.
Prescott High School volleyball coach Shellie Bowman dedicated her career to protecting other people's smiles for more than two decades as a dental hygienist.Today she can smile, too.That wasn't always the case in 2013, even though the Badgers qualified for the Division 2 state tournament and The Daily Courier named her prep volleyball Coach of the Year in the tri-cities.During the summer before that season, Bowman was diagnosed with Stage 1 breast cancer, underwent a lumpectomy, and began chemotherapy treatments that continued through October. She braved her way through the schedule but still faced six weeks of radiation therapy in December. Her prognosis was encouraging, but her future remained uncertain.Today Bowman says she feels a lot better."The doctors have told me I'm doing great, and hopefully I'll get the same report [next month]," says Bowman.Related: 2014 All-Courier High School Volleyball TeamIn addition to her improved health, Bowman has other reasons to grin. The 2014 Prescott team: Finished 32-10, which nearly doubled the team's victories (17) in her first season in 2012 and eclipsed the 2013 win total (25) Improved its Division 2 ranking from 9th last season to 5th this year Ranked 20th in the state following the postseason tournament Won its first playoff game in Bowman's head coaching tenure against Tucson Magnet High. In 2013, Glendale Deer Valley eliminated Prescott in the first round.For the Badgers' achievements, The Daily Courier has selected Bowman as its 2014 high school volleyball Coach of the Year. She has earned the award every season since she became head coach in 2012 after two years as the lead assistant under Christa Stehower.Bowman credits the players as well as support from the parents, student body and school administration."The girls all got along well and believed in each other," Bowman says. "That's essential for any team whether or not you have talent. We had talent. Because of our depth, we had a lot of different options. That won't change for the next couple of years."Before their loss in the state tournament quarterfinals to Catalina Foothills, the Badgers had won nine matches in a row, losing only two sets during the streak. Earlier in the season, they lost only one set while winning six straight two-out-of-three matches en route to the Ceil Billings Tournament championship. In the Westwood Tournament of Champions, Prescott won seven consecutive abbreviated matches before losing to Horizon.Against Division 2 competition, the Badgers finished 7-2. They won eight of nine matches overall at the Prescott dome."The players want to play for her," says junior Raphael Temple. "She really got the team to play together as one. She's always supportive."Bowman relates to the girls well because she knows what it's like to be a player. Born in Bisbee, she played volleyball at Antelope High School in Wellton before becoming a setter on two national championship teams at Scottsdale Junior College. She played her final two seasons at the University of South Carolina.Her next stop was Anchorage, Alaska, more than 4,000 miles away."I followed my high school sweetheart [now her husband]," Bowman recalls. "He was smart. He brought me up there during the summer, and I worked my way into it."Curt Bowman was attending the University of Alaska in Anchorage while in the military. He eventually earned a bachelor of science at the University of Colorado where he attended dental school. Shellie finished her education degree at Alaska-Anchorage while obtaining her associate's degree in applied science in dental hygiene.She has worked with Curt at his dental practice - Prescott Smile Care - since 1998. Recently, she hung up her hygienist scaling tools and has taken on an administrative role."This gives me more time to devote to coaching," she says.Before joining the Badgers' staff, Bowman helped coach the Yavapai Juniors Volleyball Club teams. It turned out she had an inside connection to the Prescott High program. Stehower has been a hygienist at Prescott Smile Care since 2007.Bowman became the lead assistant in 2010 under Stehower when the Badgers finished as the Class 4A, Division I state runner-up and in 2011 when they reached the Division 2 state semifinals."Prescott has a strong volleyball tradition," Bowman says. "I can't take credit for what a lot of coaches before me established."With good health, dedicated players, and strong support from the Prescott community, Bowman is poised to advance that tradition. Hopefully, with lots of smiles to go with it.
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