Independence’s Weiland named Lady Wildcat coach

Andy Reed • May 23, 2017 at 5:36 PM

GLADEVILLE — Looking to restore stability to a program rocked by the sudden departure of its coach less than a year ago, Wilson Central principal Travis Mayfield chose someone he’s worked with in the past.

Melissa Weiland, the head coach at Independence High School the past three years, was announced as the Lady Wildcats softball coach Tuesday afternoon before a group of players, parents and faculty in the school’s small cafeteria.

Weiland, 33, came to the Thompson Station school in Williamson County while Mayfield was assistant principal there.

“The very first year there I thought she did an outstanding job,” said Mayfield, who returned to WCHS as following year. “She has great relationships with the girls and I’ve seen her display a real passion for coaching, working with those kids to get better and the strategy aspect of it and those kinds of things. I think she’s going to be a great fit.”

Weiland takes over for Shawn Smith, who assumed the position on an interim basis last summer following the firing, and subsequent resignation as math teacher, of Michael Shepard, who was eventually charged with statutory rape by an authority figure. The Lady Wildcats won the state championship under Shepard two seasons ago and just finished a 24-16-1 season under Smith. Mayfield said he expects Weiland will bring stability to the program.

“I think she’s going to be here for the long haul,” Mayfield said. “She’s got a lot of integrity, a lot of loyalty and I think it’ll be a long relationship.”

“I’m excited for the new opportunity, new adventure, new environment, a new staff,” Weiland said. “I’m just blessed and grateful for the opportunities I’ve been given by Mr. Mayfield.

“I can’t wait to meet the team and the new journey we’re about to go through.”

A former softball assistant coach at Riverdale and girls’ basketball assistant/freshman coach at Tullahoma, she went 50-46 at Independence, including 15-16 this past season. A Murfreesboro native and Riverdale graduate, she played basketball at Middle Tennessee State until a knee injury ended her hoops career. She finished her college eligibility playing for the Lady Raiders. She was a catcher and third baseman.

Leigh McCutchen, an assistant coach at Siegel Middle, was also introduced as Weiland’s assistant. Weiland, who will teach special ed, said discussions will soon be under way concerning the remainder of her staff, including whether any assistants from Smith’s staff will remain.

As for the players, though there are five starters who are graduating, Weiland said there seems to be plenty of returning talent.

“I am extremely excited about the upcoming players,” she said. “From what I’ve seen, I think we’ll be okay.”

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