Covenant baseball was formally introduced to its newest coach on Tuesday. Athletic director Clark Walker concluded his extensive search for the Eagles’ next skipper when he hired Chris Madison to replace the vacancy left by former coach Jeff Burton.
“It’s a great joy to introduce Chris,” Walker said. “He works with youth on a regular basis so i think he’s going to be a really great fit for us long term. You have to give the coaches before him credit, Jeff Burton and Doug Smethurst the guys who built this program. It was a really tough decision to make, trying to find the right person to fill that role.”
The Eagles are getting a local product at the helm. A standout pitcher when he was in high school, Madison played at Western Albemarle until he graduated in 2010. He was also an integral member the Albemarle Post 74 baseball team. In college he played at Ferrum before transferring and playing at Southern Virginia University. After playing on the professional circuit Madison broke into the coaching ranks at SVU before becoming an assistant for Western.
“I was fortunate enough that one of my college coaches told me about the opening here and I quickly applied for the job,” Madison said. “Fortunately Clark Walker gave me this opportunity to come and coach here.”
Madison takes over a program coming of the heels of a VISAA Division 2 final four showing, the first for Covenant since it won a state title in 2011. While the Eagles have a roster to retool with six players from last year now playing Division 1 baseball in college, Madison is excited about the opportunity to make his mark.
“We have a core of guys coming back, seven that played last year and so right now it’s about continuing to build a winning culture,” Madison said. “I have a vision that I want to integrate with our players so that we’re all thinking on the same page. We’ll be working on that early on. It’s kind of like starting over but we’re not starting from scratch so I’m really excited to get to work.”
Covenant opens up its season in the first week of March with a road trip to Fork Union.