BRISTOL, Va. – Andrew Belcher found his niche at Virginia High School and King University in baseball.
This spring, Belcher will move to a different field.
The 2001 Virginia High graduate was recently selected as the new head softball coach for the VHS Bearcats. Belcher replaces Vanessa Fisher Meyers, who stepped down following a six-year run to spend more time with her family.
"Baseball has been a passion in my family, and the game afforded me the chance to earn a college degree," Belcher said. "To me, baseball and softball are similar in terms of competition and strategy."
Belcher currently serves as the offensive coordinator for the VHS varsity football team and is an assistant for the wrestling program.
For two years, Belcher worked as an assistant to VHS head softball coach Barry Reed. The fiery Reed guided the Bearcats to a pair of state runner-up finishes while never posting a losing record in 18 seasons.
"Coach Reed was fun to work with," said Belcher, who helped VHS to one of those Class AA title games at Radford University. "He stressed an aggressive approach on offense while focusing on details and fundaments. I’m a big believer in being aggressive at the plate."
Belcher knows hitting.
As a three-year starter at first base for the Bearcats, he established school records for single-season (eight) and career home runs (19) while earning second-team all-state honors.
After a year at Surry Community College in Dobson, North Carolina, Belcher emerged as a three-year staple at first base for King where he slammed a total of 49 homers. As a sophomore, Belcher earned all-conference honors after compiling a batting average of .506 with 28 doubles.
Belcher, who served as an assistant baseball coach at Virginia Intermont College for a year, has worked as the pitching coach for the VHS varsity baseball squad since 2011.
"I had a lot of positive influences with my coaches at Virginia High and I want to be the type of teacher and coach who influences and inspires young people," Belcher said. "This is a great opportunity to have my own program.
Belcher’s father, Steve, wrestled and played football at Tennessee High.
"All of my family is from Bristol and I never had any desire to leave the area," Andrew said. "I’ve always wanted to be a coach and Virginia High is where I want to be."
Andrew’s younger brother, Tyler, was a star catcher at VHS and Old Dominion University before competing in the minor leagues for three seasons with the Marlins organization. Tyler, who caught Major League all-star and Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander at ODU, is now an assistant baseball coach at John Battle.
"We started playing baseball at age five," Andrew said. "I’ve made lifelong friends and created lifetime memories through the game."
In his new role with softball, Belcher said he will draw off his association with veteran VHS baseball coach Mark Daniels.
"Coach Daniels likes to break the big picture down into a small puzzle," Belcher said. "The ins and outs of baseball, such as pitch selection and moving runners base to base, are basically the same in both sports"
Belcher said that former VHS and King baseball player Kregg Mabe will serve on his softball staff along with former John Battle and University of Virginia’s College at Wise baseball player Josh Blackburn. Junior varsity coach Shannon Mason is also still with the program.
"Virginia High has had a history of success in softball and I want to get the program back to the level where it was competing for regional and state titles," Belcher said. "I will stress a blue-collar approach in my first season with extensive work on drills and details."
Belcher, currently working with the VHS football team in summer workouts, pointed to another essential part of success in baseball and softball.
"It’s all about the process," he said.
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