WHITE OAK — Nineveh Gawrieh Blankenship and White Oak Ladyneck softball go together just like peas and carrots.
The 2004 White Oak graduate was a trailblazer for a Ladyneck softball program founded in 1999. Blankenship was a mainstay in the circle for White Oak from 2001 through 2004, leaving the school as its all-time leader in victories (72) and strikeouts (571).
She now embarks on heading up the Ladyneck softball fortunes becoming the fifth head coach in school history. Blankenship, who teaches special education, returned to the dugout this past spring as a second assistant for Jamie Wilson.
White Oak rolled to the school’s first district championship in five years and only its third ever. The Ladynecks posted an impressive 30-5 overall record and advanced three rounds deep in postseason. Wilson, who wanted to get closer to her home of San Angelo, resigned shortly after the season ended.
And while Blankenship seemed like a logical choice for replacement, she was much more incredulous that it could come to fruition.
“It was pretty much unbelievable for me. This is something I always thought about possibly doing, but I never thought I’d get the opportunity mainly because I got into this so late,” said Blankenship, who was White Oak softball’s first all-state selection in 2004.
After her star-studded high school career, Blankenship enrolled to play softball at UT-Tyler. That never came to pass, however, as Blankenship dropped out to help her family as her mother battled cancer.
“I came back home and worked as a manager at Payless and later worked in an attorney’s office. That really was my favorite job. Didn’t think I’d ever leave that job,” Blankenship explained. “When my mother passed away in 2015, I didn’t want to put my kids in daycare so I decided to stay home. After staying home with them for a couple years I started to go stir crazy.”
Blankenship eventually took a job at the school and got reacquainted with the game she dearly loves.
“My husband Klint got the assistant job at softball and I watched him that first year. I knew then I missed the game way too much. I felt like I could help them out,” she said. “I talked with Klint about working with team after I got a job at the school. We talked to (athletic director) Kris Iske and that’s kind of how it all got started.”
Blankenship brings with her an astute knowledge of softball. She’s also well aware of the expectation level for Ladyneck softball.
“White Oak’s such a great place to be. I can’t imagine wanting to go anywhere else. I’m so excited with the opportunity. We’ve got some talented girls and I’m really looking forward to actually building a program,” Blankenship said.
“We’re starting our first camp next week and it’s open for girls kindergarten through freshmen. We’re just trying to put the love of the game into our program.”