Portland high school softball legend Debbie Engelstad retires after 37 years

Debbie Engelstad has been head softball coach at Grant High School since 1989.
Published: May. 19, 2023 at 1:19 PM PDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) - Debbie Engelstad has been head softball coach at Grant High School since 1989.

Engelstad has been everything to Grant High School Softball and beyond. The Portland interscholastic league hall of famer tasted the sweet success as head coach on the Grant softball diamond since 1989.

Debbie is a proud alum from the Grant High class of ‘82 where she starred in soccer and softball. Then she coached both sports for multiple decades starting in 1987.

“In my 58 years of life, I have probably spent every spring playing softball, somewhere at whatever level since i was 8 years old,” said Engelstad.

Northeast Portland born-and-raised, Deb’s Rose City roots took her to college to captain the PSU Vikings.

“Debbie creates an amazing sense of community. You know she is always there for you,” said Izzy Jacobs, Grant H.S. senior.

Engelstad was ready to fully retire last year, but the physical education and health teacher needed at least one season on the Generals’ first ever home turf, which was a longtime coming.

Debbie should know. She played as a freshman during the first season the OSAA added softball as a sanctioned sport in 1979.

The games, the kids, the field, their voices. Debbie fought for them all during her four decades as an advocate for opportunity, equity, and trust.

A mom to three kids now in their early 20′s, Coach Englestad teamed up with her players in 2021 to sue Portland public schools after no softball field was in the final plans during the great Grant renovation project.

“This was important. This was important for our school, important for the softball program, but overall. It’s benefitting the entire school, the space that we’ve helped create,” said Engelstad.

Determination and mediation made it happen as the Generals now share the turf for a beautiful softball and baseball complex.

“It was a battle that needed to be fought and my goal was, I was going to see this field through,” said Engelstad. “Now, these kids walk out, the trainer is there. We have a dugout. We didn’t even know what to do with that. I am like, ‘how do we accessorize the dugout? We’ve never had one like this!’ so, it was pretty cool. We have a sound system, it’s just amazing. We have lights. The kids are like, ‘wow, this is big time’ and it is!”

Our hats off to coach Engelstad’s hall of fame playing career, coaching career, and teaching here at her alma mater where her legacy passes down to the next generations with this new turf field on campus in the home of the Generals of Grant High.