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Willis J. Steenhuis photo
Willis J. Steenhuis photo
Willis J. Steenhuis
Hometown: Nashville, TN
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Coach Willis Steenhuis was a wily 34-year coaching veteran who guided famed baseball programs at Central High and Wingfield High in Jackson. Born in Nashville, Willis was an All-District, All-State baseball player that was a member of the 1954 Jackson Central High state championship team. He was the Most Valuable Player and school record holder as a pitcher at Mississippi College where he earned his degree and signed with the Baltimore Orioles after his senior season. Coach Steenhuis served in the Air National Guard from 1959 to 1965 and started his distinguished 34-year coaching career in 1959 at his alma mater at Central. Beginning as an assistant for one season, Willis was named head coach where he would lead the baseball program there for 17 years. He also coached basketball at Central where his teams won 335 out of 518 games for a 65% winning mark. His 1963 and 1964 hoops squads won the City, County, North Big Eight, and South Mississippi titles. His 1965 team took the City crown while his 1966 hoopsters won the South Mississippi title. Coach Steenhuis’ 1967 Central team won the North Big Eight and City title and his last squad at Central won the 1970 County tourney. On the baseball diamond, Willis excelled in his profession. He arrived at cross town Wingfield High and led the program to 17 different championships over 16 years. Willis’ first Wingfield team took the North Big Eight and City title. His 1979 Falcons brought home the City, Sub District, Big Eight title, and the ultimate state championship. Under his guidance, Wingfield won the 7 city or district crowns from 1982 to 1993. His 1991 team was state runner-up. Overall, Willis has coached his Central and Wingfield baseball teams to 292 wins and only 133 losses out of 426 games played for a 69% winning mark. Coach Steenhuis had equal success with the Wingfield girls’ softball squads as the Falcons won 8 City titles including an amazing run of 6 consecutive championships from 1984 to 1989. His softball teams also captured four district titles with the 1992 team finishing third in the state playoffs. Coach Steenhuis dedicated his life to the diamond and he was a member of the National Baseball Congress from 1989 to 1992. He has the unique distinction of being an All-Star basketball coach and an All-Star baseball coach in the same season in 1977. He was a published author on baseball and coaching and spoke at numerous coaching clinics. Willis also worked as a basketball official for 36 years in central Mississippi. He has been a public address announcer at Newell Field for high school football games for numerous seasons. He coached American Legion baseball for two stints and his teams won 2 state championships in 1965 and 1980. Coach Steenhuis coached semi-pro baseball from 1967 to 1977 and three of his squads won state titles. He also coached Connie Mack baseball for one season claiming another state title. From 1977 to 1989, Willis assisted Coach Louis “Skin” Boteler as state director of Semi-Pro baseball and then became State Commissioner of Mississippi Semi-Pro baseball from 1989 to 1992. In addition to the MAC Coaches Hall of Fame, Coach Steenhuis is a member of the Mississippi Semi-Pro Baseball Hall of Fame.