McElyea steps down after eight seasons with HCHS softball program


Kim Henson

Harlan County coach Tim McElyea talked with his team during 52nd District Tournament action last week. McElyea confirmed Saturday he was stepping down as coach after eight season. McElyea led the Lady Bears to five district titles.

By John Henson, Managing Editor

Tim McElyea wasn’t sure he could coach girls when asked to take over the Harlan County softball program at midseason in 2013 when Howard White retired.
It didn’t take him long to figure it out, leading the Lady Bears to five 52nd District titles and three runner-up finishes in his eight seasons. He won over 67 percent of his games during that time with a record of 175-53. McElyea’s winning percentage and number of district titles are both likely county records, but he decided recently It was time for him to step away from coaching.
“This is my last one,” McElyea said Saturday after the Lady Bears’ loss to South Laurel in the 13th Region Tournament. “I’ve had eight years with this program and two years on the baseball field. I feel it’s time for me to walk away. You know when you know. I have some family with health issues over in Virginia.”
McElyea was a baseball standout at Keokee High School in the early 1980s under Roger Morris before Morris left to begin his amazing run of success at Cumberland in the 1980s and 90s. McElyea went on to play at Lincoln Memorial University, then began his service in the armed forces.
After coaching in Virginia, McElyea came to Harlan County High School soon after the school opened to lead the JROTC program. He spent two season as pitching coach for the HCHS baseball team under John Lewis before moving over to softball.
“I’ve enjoyed it,” he said. “The girls were a little easier to coach than I thought they would be. I just had to learn to coach girls. Their emotions were a little different than guys, and it took me a while. I also had some great staffs here that supported me. I had a pretty good run here. “

Tim McElyea talked with his team earlier in his eight-year tenure as the HCHS softball coach. (Missy C. Bianchi)