Justin Chaney achieves 400 career fastpitch softball wins
DECATUR, Miss. (WTOK) - Newton County softball coach Justin Chaney isn’t one for celebrating personal achievements.
In fact, his own players didn’t know he had picked up fastpitch win No. 400 over spring break until this week.
“We had no idea he had won 400 games until before Tuesday’s game,” senior Haley Beth McDowell said. “He’s all about the players and building young girls up, teaching us not to be boastful.”
While Chaney didn’t share his achievement with his team, his wife Tabitha posted about it on Facebook. The family was unable to get the game ball from his 400th win, so they honored him with the game ball from his 405th win by writing ’405′ on it.
Coach Chaney has remained at Newton County throughout his entire coaching career. He was an assistant softball coach for two seasons and has now been head coach the past 18 seasons.
He also graduated from Newton County High School and said he was thankful to begin his career at the place he’s always called home.
“I say all the time if you cut me open I’ll bleed orange and blue,” Chaney said. “I don’t want to go anywhere else. I work for good administration, have really good community support and that makes it easy to come to work every day.”
Chaney said it hasn’t sunk in he’s won that many games throughout his career because he’s still coaching. He believes when he retires , which he isn’t planning on soon, he then will be able to appreciate the accomplishment.
He did say one thing came to mind when he thought about the years of hard work put in to make it this far in his career.
“I did think about my family because they’ve had to sacrifice so much for me for me to do what I love to do,” Chaney said. “The one special thing about this all is my daughter is on the team now and for her to be out there and go through it with me is special. Growing up she didn’t get to see dad a lot because I was on a ball field somewhere, so it’s really special.”
Being head softball coach at Newton County is about more than winning ball games for Chaney. His main focus is helping young players grow into leaders on the softball field and out in the world.
Senior Lanie Phillips has played under Coach Chaney for six years and shared how he helped her grow as both a person and player.
“He’s helped me come out of my shell. I was very little when I first started and I always wanted to be bigger and better,” Phillips said. “He’s pushed me and now, I have this passion for softball because he’s helped me so much.”
Chaney has won 19 state championships between slowpitch and fastpitch softball. He said retirement is nearing closer since he talks about it now, but still isn’t sure exactly when that time will be.
“I’ll get out of coaching when that burning desire to want to win a state championship goes away,” Chaney said. “I think we have a group that can do that this year and I’m going to push them to that.”
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