Two weeks after naming head football coach Mike Zeller to the head softball coaching position, Lenoir City High School has found an assistant coach for the program.
Athletic Director Greg Boling said the hiring of Sarah Vaughn Vance is an exciting one that will make a big difference for LCHS.
Vance was a member of the 2004 state championship softball team at the high school, going on to play at the University of Tennessee and Belmont University. The position will be her first as an official coach, but she is confident her experiences in the sport will carry over.
"I've done hitting lessons, I've put on my own softball camps," she said. "But I'm only 26. I've never coached before this. I played softball at Tennessee, and during that period, in the summers, I would work softball camps with the Weeklys. I worked some other camps around town and also put on a camp in Lenoir City two years in a row.
"I just really have a passion to see girls be part of a team," she said. "I think it does a lot for confidence and things like that."
Vance recently moved back to the Lenoir City area from Savannah, Ga., and said she was interested in helping the softball program.
"When I played at Lenoir City it was some of the most fun I had playing ball," she said. "It was hard to see them struggle so much in the past few years. I felt like we built something really successful there and I think they can be really successful again."
Vance's numbers in her time at Lenoir City speak volumes about her ability as a player. She batted .509 as a freshman, .513 as a sophomore, .595 as a junior and .656 as a senior. She made the all-state team in her junior and senior year, stealing nearly 100 bases and hitting 17 home runs.
She credited the right workouts with helping her achieve those numbers. The Lady Panthers can expect many of those workouts to be a big part of the offseason as Vance will play a major role while Zeller focuses on the football team.
"I'm going to be helping him with workouts," Vance said. "I did a lot of speed and agility training. I'm really excited to get involved with that and do a lot of offseason workouts and get in the weight room. I'm super excited to get in there and do some ladder drills and some running drills and work on speed and agility training. It made a world of difference when I played."
While Vance isn't very familiar with the roster, she is excited about what she has heard and the potential to build a program.
"I'm looking forward to getting to know them and getting to know their personalities," she said. "I've been told there is a lot of really good athletes on the team. Coach Zeller has told me a little bit about that. I'm just really excited to maybe work on their confidence a little and just help them realize their potential."
For now, the assistant coaching role will be the only one Vance takes on with Lenoir City Schools, but she does hope to do more down the road.
"I have a six-month old son right now," she said. "Primarily, I just want to take care of him and be home with him. I do have an English degree. Ultimately, I would like to teach."