Batinovich brings fame to Puyallup

When you are passionate about a sport, you do not do it for the recognition, you do it for the love of the game.

But it is still nice to get some respect.

As of Feb. 15, teacher and coach Tony Batinovich will be inducted into the Washington State Softball Hall of Fame.

Batinovich has been teaching for 32 years and coaching for 22 years. Aside from softball, Batinovich also coaches volleyball. The honor came as quite a surprise to him.

“I got a call from a man named Tom Harmon who is the President of Washington State Softball’s Association. He told me I was selected and I could not be happier,” Batinovich said. “Bruce Welling from Central Kitsap is in the Hall of Fame and the rule is that current members nominate someone to become a new member; he nominated me. He went to a committee, they voted and I guess I was chosen. There are three of us being inducted. Myself, a retired coach and a current coach at University High School. ”

Aside from teaching and coaching, Batinovich is a board member for the Washington State Coaches Association for softball.

“I was originally on there as a representative for the sport of volleyball and that was a three year term. My term was up but coincidentally they had openings on the board for softball so they asked me to start another three year term,” Batinovich said. “We have meetings at least three times a year and all the representatives come to the meetings and we just kind of discuss our concerns about the direction of athletics in the state of Washington and then we meet with the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association, which is the group that oversees any high school activities that compete in the state. We tell them our concerns about state tournaments, rules and other things like that.”

Retired teacher and coach Bruce Welling was a teacher for 42 years and had coached since 1990. He has had the chance to play against Welling many times over the years.

“I have coached against him for the last 10 years, we have had good games against each other he has always done very well. I am very familiar with what he does and how he does it and he does an excellent job,” Welling said. “Playing against him, I have seen his organization skills, the level of skills his players possess, the way he coaches, the way he treats his players, the way they respect him and I know he has given a lot back to the community through his coaching and that is someone who has hall of fame qualifications.”

Senior Marissa Miller has been playing softball for 10 years, four of which have been coached by Batinovich. She agrees that Batinovich deserves this honor.

“I think it is great that he is in the Hall of Fame, he is a very successful coach and we have had great players come through [the program] that were very successful because of him,” Miller said. “I know it means a lot to him, he has been teaching and coaching here for a really long time and deserves the recognition, so getting inducted into the Hall of Fame is great accomplishment. I feel like people are more respected once they are honored like this.”

Although the induction is a great honor, Batinovich gives credit to the people who have been there along the way.

“I just keep plugging away coaching because I enjoy it and I enjoy being around the players and this is just a nice reward. I have had some great assistant coaches over the years and good players come through over the years, it is just a testament to the program, the parents that support their kids playing the game and it all adds up together,” Batinovich said.