Friday, 09 August 2019 16:04

Way 'thrilled for the opportunity' to serve as new Lady Raider softball coach

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Mike Way, pictured with daughter Katie Way, was introduced as Richmond's new softball coach this week. Mike Way, pictured with daughter Katie Way, was introduced as Richmond's new softball coach this week. Deon Cranford — The Richmond Observer.

ROCKINGHAM — Although he admitted he’s got some big shoes to fill, the Richmond Senior High School softball program is in some pretty good hands with Mike Way.

Way’s official announcement as the new Lady Raider head coach earlier this week is the most recent coaching news in the revolving door at the high school. He will replace 13-year veteran and the program’s winningest coach, Wendy Wallace, who stepped down to spend more time with family.

On Friday, the Richmond Observer broke the news of Ricky Young’s resignation as the head baseball coach and athletic director. Neely Herndon was also introduced as the new Lady Raider tennis coach on Tuesday, replacing Way’s old post. 

“I’m thrilled for the opportunity to coach the softball team,” Way said of his new role. “Spending the last six years around the program when my Thunder kids started getting involved, I’ve always enjoyed coming out here and watching the team.

 “There is a strong sense of pride for the whole thing and I want to continue it,” he added. “I went to school here and I just love it.”

Way is no stranger to Richmond or the Lady Raider softball program. A 1993 graduate from Raider Nation, Way was a three-year golfer in high school and played baseball through junior high school. 

He attended the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where he played golf for the Spartans. In his four years with the program, Way was a captain for three seasons, while also making the Big South All-Conference team three times. During his junior season, he was named the Big South’s “Player of the Year.”

Way’s oldest daughter, Greyson, is set to begin her freshman year at UNC-Greensboro this fall, and will be playing softball at his alma mater. As a four-year varsity player for the Lady Raiders, including the starting pitcher the last two years, Greyson Way helped maintain a winning culture that has been established within the program.

Since coming to Richmond in 2016-17 as a physical education teacher, Way has coached several sports. He’s spent the last three falls coaching girls’ tennis, has served as the boys’ and girls’ swimming coach for two seasons and also coached one year of boys’ golf. 

His softball background is also extensive, having started the Richmond Thunder travel softball program in 2009 with Danny Lampley, Angela Lampley and Jimmy McDonald. Some of the former Lady Raider players to develop with that team include Greyson Way, Savannah Lampley, Owen Bowers, NaLee Jacobs, Peyton Fann and Tori Mabe.

In 2012, Way coached a Dixie Youth World Series team with Greyson on it, winning the championship in Georgetown, S.C. Three years later, he coached another team, this time with his other daughter Katie Way and current Lady Raider softball players Kenleigh Frye, Madison Jordan, Paige Ransom, Allyiah Swiney and Maylyn Wallace.

Way’s most recent stint with softball was coaching the Hamlet Middle School team this past spring, seeing Katie play under his instruction. Way’s son, Cameron Way, will be a sophomore baseball player for the Raiders this spring.

“I’ve coached a lot of the girls who are on the team now,” Way shared. “I know they all had such a good experience with Wendy, so I’m going to try and carry that on.

“I’m quiet by nature, but the field itself and being out there is a release,” he added of his excitement. “It’s almost like a different personality for me. A big part is that Katie will be here next year (2021) and I want her to have the same experience as Greyson.”

During Wallace’s tenure between the 2007 and 2019 seasons, the Lady Raiders won 258 games and brought home nine conference titles, including the last seven straight regular-season championships. Richmond also made the playoffs every season during that span, and Way hopes to continue the success of the program. 

“Some people might say there’s nowhere to go but down, but there’s been a standard that has been set, and we’re going to maintain that,” Way shared. “We’ll do everything in our power to see that through, but we may go about it a different way.

“My vision isn’t any different, but I do believe we need to continue to develop from underneath,” he added. “There’s going to need to be something along the lines of the Thunder to have the girls ready to go before they get to high school.”

As a longtime educator and coach, Way noted that relationship building is one key concept he’s looking forward to. Not only does he hope to establish a strong rapport with his players, but also the parents and community. He added that in order for the program to “be as consistently good as it has been,” it will take the effort of everyone involved.

With the 2020 softball season still off in the distance, Way is already game planning to get started this fall with team workouts. The Lady Raiders are losing possibly three of the program’s best players of all-time in Greyson Way, Savannah Lampley and Taylor Parrish, but Way is excited to work with nearly a dozen returners next spring.

“My coaching style is aggressive, so I’m always looking for an advantage,” he said. “Or looking to capitalize on a weakness on the other side, and force things into action. That means putting pressure on other teams to make plays.

“We’re going to play the right way and if we do that, the wins and losses will take care of themselves,” he closed. “I want the girls to hustle on the field, back up throws, run out ground balls and do the little things that good teams do. But more than anything, we’ll play as hard as we can to win.”

Kyle Pillar

Sports Editor. IUP communications media and journalism alumni. English teacher, Ninth Grade Academy.

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