Varner, former Harlan star, wins Appalachian Athletic Conference gold glove award


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Harlan graduate Will Varner won a gold glove award in the Appalachian Athletic Conference for his stellar defensive play at Johnson University in Knoxville. Varner also led the league and set a school record in stolen bases.

By John Henson, Managing Editor

Four years after leaving Harlan High School as a standout pitcher/infielder, Will Varner is collecting honors following a strong senior season at Johnson University in Knoxville, Tenn.
Varner, who plays first base and third base for the Royals, was a gold glove winner in the Appalachian Athletic Conference for his stellar defense and led the league in stolen bases as a junior and was second as a senior while setting a school record in the process. Even though Varner graduated earlier this week, he plans to return for one more season as a graduate student.
“I have felt very blessed to be able to be a part of a program like Johnson,” Varner said. “My teammates and coaches have always made me strive to be the best version of myself on and off the field. I am excited to continue my career for another year and, hopefully, continue my success.”
Varner hit .257 this season with a .339 on-base percentage and a .300 slugging percentage with a fielding percentage of .907. He was the first Johnson player to reach 100 hits in the two years the Royals have played in the AAC.
“Will Varner was part of my first recruiting class here at Johnson University, and the moment I saw him play and talked to him I knew the kid was special,” Johnson coach Ryan Bruce said. “Will has had very successful career here being a starter since his freshman year and becoming a leader for our program. He plays the game the right way, puts in countless hours of extra work, leads by example, and all that leads to him being a constant staple in our everyday lineup. He has meant so much to our program over the years and continues to set the bar high. I am looking forward to him playing one more year, and then seeing what all he continues to accomplish after his playing career is over. Will is just an outstanding and top-notch young man that I am blessed to coach every day. I’m extremely proud of him.”