New coach has ties to two strong state powers, Eastern and Southern
By Bob Sutton
Special to The Alamance News
Tiffany Helton will be the first softball coach for new Southeast Alamance.
The school is nestled between state softball powers Eastern Alamance and Southern Alamance, both owners of state championships in recent years.
“No pressure, right?” Helton said.
Well, this will be a venture in building from the ground up for Helton, who moves into the position after holding an assistant coaching position at Eastern Alamance. She’s a 2007 Southern Alamance graduate and former infielder for the Patriots, so she has all sides covered.
“The new school is largely blending several communities,” Helton said. “I’ve learned a lot from the coaches I’ve played under. I don’t think we’re reinventing the wheel here.”
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At Southern, Helton played under coaches Mike Johnson and Chris Miller, with Johnson’s 2004 team winning the Class 3-A state championship.
She went to Alamance Community College and UNC Greensboro as a student, returning to coach junior varsity girls’ basketball and softball at Southern. Her student teaching began at Eastern, and she has been there as an assistant coach under Danny Way for more than a decade.
“I have been at Eastern for a long time and Danny has built an extremely strong program,” Helton said. “The opportunity at Southeast leads to so many opportunities. The first coach. The first to experience wins. The first to experience losses.”
Helton has had a longstanding connection to Way as he was her travel ball coach with the Alamance County Bombers. She was on board for Eastern’s Class 3-A state titles in 2019 and 2022, so replicating those results would be among the goals.
“It’s a feeling that as much as that’s what you strive for, once you taste it, you want it again and again and again,” Helton said. “It doesn’t happen overnight. It won’t happen overnight for Southeast, either. With our rich history of softball in Alamance County, there’s a lot of work to catch up.”
At Eastern, Helton specifically worked with infielders. Way said this is a logical next step for Helton.
“She wants to be a head coach, so I understand,” he said.
Offseason workouts have begun in recent weeks. So far, the Stallions’ roster will have three players from Eastern’s team and one from Southern, which won the 2021 Class 3-A state championship. Some other players will be moving up from this year’s middle school level.
If nothing else, Southeast will be enrolling students from the territory that encompasses this softball hotbed.
“In general, we have a strong, strong history of softball,” Helton said of the county. “The area doesn’t lack support for the sport.”
Southern grad Amber Palmer will be a Southeast assistant coach working with pitchers and catchers.
Helton was the Teacher of the Year in the Alamance-Burlington School System in 2018. Like at Eastern, she’ll teach history at Southeast.