Tommy Harmon might be the new head softball coach at John Battle High School, but he is certainly no stranger to the program.
The 52-year-old has been an assistant coach with the Trojans for the previous seven years and also spent several summers tutoring young players at the Little League level who eventually starred at Battle.
He’ll now lead the varsity squad as he is the successor to Hannah Light Cress as the softball boss on Battle Hill.
“It’s one of those things where I just feel obligated to the school,” Harmon said. “I graduated from there and care about the kids. I told [principal] Jimmy King in my interview it is about more than softball. Of course as a coach you want to win, but there’s a little more to it than that. Some of these kids need us more than we need them and I want to be there for the kids and want to be a positive for the program.”
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Harmon coached under Eric Senter and Cress during his time as an assistant and has worked with both the varsity and junior varsity teams.
He was on the coaching staff in 2017 for the Washington County Senior League squad that advanced to the World Series in Delaware.
Battle struggled for most of the 2022 campaign and the season ended with a 9-3 loss at Tazewell in the first round of the Region 2D tournament in what was the fourth and final year on the job for Cress.
Saylor Baldwin and Jordan Roulette-Wheeler are seniors who will be back this season for Battle.
“Oh yeah, we’ve got some good talent coming back and a lot of young talent coming as well,” Harmon said. “The talent’s there, we just had a bad season last year. Things didn’t go the way we wanted to and some situations arose that we couldn’t work through.”
Harmon knows that success won’t be automatic, however, in the Mountain 7 District.
Wise County Central is the defending regional champs, while Ridgeview, Gate City and Abingdon are quality programs. Union and Lee High also have plenty of promising young players.
“The Mountain 7 is one of the most competitive districts around and I’ve always said that,” Harmon said. “It was like that when my daughter [Emma] was playing and she graduated in 2020. You’ve gotta be on top of your game to win in the Mountain 7.”
Harmon was on Destin, Florida, when the hire got approved and the 1988 Battle grad who works in woodworking, custom cabinetry, furniture and moldings is ready to assemble a strong squad in his debut as a varsity head coach.
“Coach Harmon has been committed to the softball program at Battle for many years and has been successful,” John Battle principal Jimmy King said. “He will work extremely hard and we look forward to his leadership of the program.”