Franklin coaches aim to make teams competitive

Published 8:56 am Friday, March 27, 2009

FRANKLIN—Two new coaches have taken the helm of Franklin’s baseball and softball programs and are hoping to get the teams competitive in the Tri-Rivers District.

Jay McKinney, an English teacher at the school for four years, is the new head coach of the baseball team. McKinney coached the JV team two years ago and is also the varsity cross-country coach. He replaces Walt Flythe.

“My responsibilities had kind of led me away from it last year, but I was able to get back into it this year, and I’m very excited about coaching the varsity team,” he said.

McKinney, who grew up in Virginia Beach, was a pitcher in high school until rotator cuff problems ended his baseball career. He feels this year’s Broncos can be competitive after finishing in fourth place in the Tri-Rivers District last year.

“We have a couple of strong pitchers. Some kids are strong in their positions and knew their game,” he said. “I think I am going to do my best to get them motivated. I think we are going to compete.”

The Broncos were scheduled to open their season today against Nandua, but transportation issues forced them to postpone.

The new softball coach is Shanda Harper, a newcomer to coaching. She replaced Natalie Robbins, who guided the Lady Broncos to a second-place finish in the TRD last year. The team also qualified for the regional playoffs.

Harper, who is the math lab instructor at J.P. King Middle School and taught at Norfolk State University for seven years, played intramural softball at Georgia Tech. Harper and her team will learn together.

“We have a good team of girls. They are all motivated to learn. A lot of them have little experience playing softball,” she said. “A lot of them have come from never holding a bat to swinging well and catching well.”