Handy new War Eagle softball coach
Published 9:32 am Wednesday, June 1, 2022
By Brian Pitts
After spending the 2022 season coaching Davie’s JV softball team, Nathan Handy will call the varsity shots in 2023. He was named the varsity coach on May 26, replacing Debbie Evans, who was the interim coach for the ‘22 season.
Handy, 33, is a first-year PE teacher at Davie. He grew up in Boonville in Yadkin County and attended Starmount High. Nathan and wife Tiffany live in Boonville along with their 6-year-old son, Cason.
“It feels great,” Handy said. “It’s been a lot of hard work and effort trying to have an opportunity at the high school level. You know the old saying ‘hard work pays off.’ It finally did pay off.”
Handy grew up around the game of softball while following his sister, Ashley Melton.
“My sister played travel ball for the Diamond Girls in Yadkin County,” he said. “I’ve always had a love for the game. I started coaching as a senior in college (at Winston-Salem State).”
His first teaching/coaching job was at Forbush Middle, where he coached soccer, basketball and softball. After spending eight years (2014-21) there, he jumped at the opportunity to move to Davie High. He was the assistant JV girls basketball coach before handling JV softball duties this spring.
“Middle school was a great place for me to learn and for me to understand more about the game,” he said. “I always had good talent at Forbush. There is a huge culture of softball talent over there, and it gave me the opportunity to really see what high-level softball looks like, even in 12- and 13-year-old girls. They helped me learn so much. I’ve always thought (the high school level) is where I needed to be. Everybody wants to be at the highest level, but I definitely think this is where my coaching abilities are best suited.
“I look at it like a game of chess. Everything’s got strategy behind it. There’s a ton of moving pieces, but you’re thinking two or three steps ahead. It’s a game that keeps you on your toes, and when you think you’ve got it figured out, you learn real fast you don’t.”
Handy’s biggest mentor throughout his coaching career has been his grandfather, Ken Mabe, who is 83 and lives in Yadkinville.
“He’s followed me my whole coaching career,” he said. “He was an excellent football/baseball player. He played at Reynolds High School and won a couple of state championships at Reynolds. He’s really helped me through the coaching process because he played ball his whole life and coached. We talk after about every game. We’ll talk about the things he saw. It’s fantastic to have someone like that that you can call or come to the game.”
His strong support group includes wife Tiffany.
“If I didn’t have someone to support me at home, there’s no way I would be able to put all these hours in,” he said. “Having her support is a huge benefit.”
What makes this Davie opportunity all the better is the War Eagles, who went 15-9 and finished second in the conference, will return 11 of 15 players in 2023, including a pair of future Division-I talents. Sydney Dirks, who has committed to Western Carolina, is coming off one of the greatest seasons ever, a .549 batting average with six home runs and 35 RBIs in 24 games. Summer Simpson, who has committed to Appalachian State, hit .476 with five homers.
A third future college player is Leah Grimes, who has committed to Division-II Mars Hill. Last year she hit .327 with four homers. Yet another powerful stick is Audrea Fowler (.466, four homers).
Among the returners for 2023 will be Ashley Bledsoe, Carleigh Croom, Melanie Gobble, Raelyn Lankford, Delaney Parsons and Chesney Shook. What’s more, four pitchers who picked up varsity experience in 2022 will be back – Addie Hendrix, Lankford, Riley Potts and Parsons.
“We’re going to have a good returning group,” Handy said.
New Basketball Coach
Davie athletic director Tim Devericks announced two new head coaches on May 26, the other involving varsity boys basketball. The replacement for Bruce Wallace is Josh Pittman, who brings a robust resume.
Before getting into coaching, Pittman starred as a 6-6 shooting guard. He had a hall-of-fame career at East Forsyth from 1990-94. Then he played college basketball at UNC-Asheville, where he earned Big South Conference Player of the Year twice (1997, 1998). He did not get drafted in the NBA, but he played professionally for 17 years. His pro career took him to Italy, Argentina, Mexico, Venezuela and Spain.
Pittman retired as a player in 2014. He’s got six years of head coaching experience, including a spectacular run as Winston-Salem Prep’s coach in 2021-22. In Pittman’s one and only year guiding the Phoenix, Prep went 25-3, ripped off 24 straight wins and made it to the state 1-A semifinals, where it lost 72-66 to unbeaten Hayesville. Hayesville followed that by beating Chatham Charter in overtime in the state final.
Pittman’s career coaching record is 90-45.