Current VHS head coach Mark Daniels and (retired VHS coach) Eddie Icenhour have led their teams to seven Virginia High League State Championships. But again, what I love most about their coaching is something bigger than the final scorecard; each of these men has always strived to forge a strong character within his players; invaluable “life” attributes such as work ethic, teamwork and persistence.
The Tennessee side of town can proudly boast the current success of the former THS Viking Gavin Cross, which was recently the first freshman in the history of Virginia Tech (Come on, Hokies!) National Team this summer.
Years ago I personally coached teams in Bristol, Virginia Tee Ball, Minor League and Little League, each and every one. I’ve even umpired behind the plate in many Little League games (yes, I was a glutton for penalties). My moments spent directly involved in Bristol baseball are some of the most memorable of my life. I have discovered that teaching and coaching are like two sides of the same coin. Even the fiercest athletic competitor can ultimately learn to face the truth that the highest and noblest goal is not to win a match (although it is great fun to do so), but to build. a “strong character” in the players.
The Bristol State Liners seem to me to have this type of coaching and organizational staff behind them. They try to win every game (of course), but above all they seek to forge the character of these young men, the noblest and highest goal of any sport in the world.