Softball Coach Herb Minch celebrates 25th year as a Hilltopper

Herb Minch is the current Head Softball Coach and former Head Athletic Trainer at West Liberty who is coming into his 25th year of coaching at the university. Minch was hired as the first full-time Athletic Trainer in August 1994 before stepping in as a volunteer Softball Coach the following Spring for former Head Coach, Jane Sackett.

Minch graduated from West Liberty in 1989 with an undergraduate degree in Health and Physical Education before completing a master’s degree in Athletic Training at West Virginia University. Now well into his second decade at the helm of WLU Softball, he has almost 500 total wins with an extremely impressive 285-193 record in conference play. Minch has played a huge part in the development of both the Softball and Athletic Training programs at the university across his years of service.

There was some anxiety on Minch’s behalf when he was first offered a coaching role admitting that he “had no intention of a coaching career at that time.” He said “I took the role on with some volunteer student help and a father volunteering as assistant coach. We won 18 games that spring, that was the start of a pretty good run for the next few years.”
Minch led the Softball program to 16 consecutive WVIAC Tournament bids and a trio of 30-win seasons between 1995 and 2011, which saw a school record 42-16 season in 2004. He also guided the Lady Toppers to the NCAA Division II Atlantic Region championship game in 2018, during a season that saw them receive a no.1 ranking for the first time in program history. During his time at WLU, Minch has coached 28 first-team All-Conference players and a number of All-Region performers.

When he first took on the role of Head Athletic Trainer, Minch was responsible for the healthcare and well-being of approximately 325 students, confessing that he worked 12-14 hour days during the academic year for his first eight years. “Athletic Training was my passion and I would do it all over again. It was a demanding job at the time and is even more demanding today due to the culture changes with sports.”

As he approaches his third decade at West Liberty, Minch admitted that he is unlikely to go back into Athletic Training as he would like to follow his children, Zach and Alivia, and their endeavors. His wife, Ashlea Bland-Minch, is also a key figure in Hilltopper sports as she is a former All-American for Women’s Basketball.

There have been plenty of highs and lows during his 25 years of Topper Softball. When asked about his favorite memories at WLU, Minch said, “of course the greatest memories of the athletic training profession would be seeing the student athletes compete successfully in their sport. I had the pleasure of working with a huge number of successful programs and some legendary coaches.”
Even twenty plus years of coaching may not be able to prepare him for this upcoming season in what is set to be an unusual one for all sports. However, Minch admits that he is just excited for competition to return after a very challenging and tedious year.

This year’s Softball squad will be looking to recreate their championship push of 2018 and Minch believes they have what it takes to do so. “I think we are as talented and as physical as any team we have ever had at WLU. We return seven of ten starters from the 2019 team and we are ready to get out there and see what happens,” Minch said.

The Lady Toppers will begin their season on March 1 with a home opener against Salem University before travelling to Columbus, Ohio to take on Ohio Dominican University four days later. To keep up to date with the WLU Softball team be sure to follow @WLAthletics on Twitter and look at