WEST LIBERTY, W.Va. – After 17 seasons and nearly 800 games, veteran West Liberty coach Herb Minch has decided to step down.

Minch also serves as the university's head athletic trainer overseeing 15 intercollegiate sports teams and said the continuing growth and development of West Liberty's athletic programs coupled with the expansion of his own family were the driving forces behind his decision.

“This was something I wrestled with,” Minch said, “but we're looking to do even more with our training program at the university in the near future and with a new baby in the house, I needed more time to help out at home.

“I talked it over with Coach Watson and really appreciate his understanding and support. I have wonderful memories from working with so many outstanding young women over the years. It was a great run.”

Watson, who began his career at West Liberty in the early 1970s in the dual role of head athletic trainer and head baseball coach, expressed his appreciation for Minch's work ethic and commitment to the school.

“Coach Minch has served unselfishly for many years and has worked tirelessly to bring many outstanding student athletes to West Liberty University,” Watson said. “We are deeply grateful for all of Herb's efforts.”

One of the winningest coaches in West Virginia Conference softball history, Minch came up just short of the 400-win career milestone. He finished with a 391-408 (.489) overall record, which included a sparkling 240-142 (.628) mark in WVIAC play.

His Hilltopper teams had three 30-win seasons, topped by a school-record 37-14 campaign in 2004, and earned 16 consecutive WVIAC Tournament bids. Minch led West Liberty to the 1999 WVIAC Tournament title and also took WLU to the championship game on five other occasions (2000, 2002, 2003, 2005 and 2006).

West Liberty produced 25 first-team All-WVIAC honorees and 21 All-Tournament selections during the Minch Era. The veteran coach also developed a WVIAC Player of the Year, a WVIAC Freshman of the Year and two WVIAC Tournament MVPs.

A 1989 West Liberty graduate with a degree in Health and Physical Education, Minch earned his master's degree in Athletic Training from West Virginia University. He also holds a Certified Athletic Trainer's certificate from the National Athletic Trainers Association (NATA) and has been a certified Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) for more than two decades.

Minch resides in West Liberty with his wife, former Hilltopper basketball All-American Ashlea Bland-Minch, daughter Kailee (5), and son Zachary Robert (2 months).