Valencia high school memorialized the career of one of its first legends on Saturday when the school renamed its softball field “Donna H. Lee Stadium.”
Lee built the program from the ground up and, 28 years later, she retired with nearly every accolade a coach could dream of.
The coach was honored in a banquet on Saturday that featured dozens of former players, staff and of course the legend herself.
“It was surreal,” said Lee. “Who would’ve ever thought in 1994 when I started the program I’d be here after 28 years but sure enough, here we are.”
Even some former players from Lee’s Taft days back in 1990 were able to make it to the event to honor their coach.
“I started with these girls in 1990,” said Lee. “So, it was great seeing them. It was a full circle from my first coaching days all the way through. The memories you have by just looking at them. Whether it’s softball breakfast or winning a championship in a place you didn’t expect, great things like that.”
Valencia has seen some incredible talent come out of its softball program. Twenty-nine former All-CIF Vikings were also honored with their names engraved at Lee Stadium.
Lee initially shut down the idea of renaming the field when the school asked her while she was still coaching. She gave the green light for the rename as long as the program would wait until she retired.
The banquet closed out with the singing of Valencia’s alma mater, a former tradition of the softball team before COVID-19.
“So, it was really great because we closed with our alma mater,” said Lee. “Pre-COVID we always closed with the alma mater. That was our final thing we did before we went out to the field.”
Lee was prepared for her former players to not fully remember the words so had the lyrics set up for everyone to see.
The field will remain Valhalla, where Lee and her Vikings did their battle. The head coach’s name will be engraved forever after 545 wins, 14 Foothill League championships, two CIF titles and one national championship.
“It was just so memorable as far as seeing all the kids, and getting to relive all the memories,” said Lee. “Those are memories those kids are gonna have forever. You can’t replicate them.”