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Coming off an appearance in the Group 3A state tournament and returning many of the same players who helped spur the postseason run, Warhill seemed an unlikely candidate to go through a coaching change heading into the 2016 season.
However, that’s exactly what happened as Tom Bunn, a teacher at Warhill High School and travel softball coach with the Williamsburg Starz, took over for Meredith Powell, who coached the Lions for the previous five season.
Bunn could not help but chuckle when asked about inheriting such a loaded roster when most coaching changes happen with teams going through some sort of slide or struggle.
“It’s a pretty unique situation,” he said. “Often times when you inherit a coaching position it’s coming out of a bad position, not a good one. There’s a lot of good players here, and I’m very fortunate for that.”
An experienced coach who led Lafayette from 2006 to 2009, Bunn has a good rapport with many of the girls already on Warhill’s roster given his coaching background with the Williamzburg Starz. Some of Warhill’s top players, including Virginia Tech pitching commit Keely Rochard and Kieran McClure, have been coached by Bunn for years.
Additionally, Bunn has come to know some of the players on the team through his five years of teaching at Warhill. Bunn was a math teacher for four years, but recently began teaching in the school’s engineering department.
Bunn’s perspective on coaching mirrors that of his teaching. Bunn’s main message to his players and students is “be the best version of yourself every single day.” This simple message of pushing an already talented group of players to a new level is done in the hopes of turning a state tournament appearance into a state championship.
But just as Bunn refuses to allow a single game dictate the talent level of a particular player, he also refuses to allow a single game be the determining factor in whether a season was successful.
“I know the perspective would be … if we don’t exceed what we did last year, does that make [the season] unsuccessful?” he asked. “I can understand people thinking that, but I don’t think you can put it all on one game in the postseason making the season successful or unsuccessful. That’s a tough way to measure it. The way we’re going to improve is by investing in the process and holding ourselves accountable.”