VSN (admin) Posted Monday, August 29, 2022 – 4:30 PM
Wayland Baptist’s first-ever softball head coach doesn’t have to travel far to take on the reins of the Pioneer program.
Enrique Villa — who has nearly 25 years of coaching experience, nearly half of that at nearby Plainview High School — has been named WBU softball coach.
“I am pleased to announce that Enrique Villa has accepted the role of Wayland’s first softball coach,” WBU athletic director Jim Giacomazzi said. “He is a man of character and deep faith. He understands what we do here at Wayland, which is to educate students in an academically stimulating, learning-oriented, and distinctively Christian environment for career success and service to God and humanity.
“He will have the opportunity to start a program from scratch.”
Wayland announced in mid-June that he would pitch softball in the 2022-23 college year. The Pioneers will compete as a club team next spring before joining 17 other WBU sports in the Sooner Athletic Conference the following season.
Wayland is looking to practice and play at the city-owned softball complex in Running Water Draw Park, including the brand new field. In fact, Villa lives very close to the property.
“What a blessing and honor to launch this program for Wayland,” Villa said. “I’m super excited and will do my best to get there as soon as possible. I am beyond excited not only for the possibilities that Wayland softball will have, but also for what I feel it will become over time. This is a program that I believe players will flock to, and I hope to use the sport of softball to serve young people, bring them closer to the Lord, and at the same time, He will bless us.”
A native of Fort Stockton, Villa graduated from Texas Tech in 1996 and immediately began his career as a head coach at Ferris High School. He had two stints at Ferris, separated by a two-year stint coaching volleyball at Dallas Christian High School, then serving as head softball coach at West Mesquite High School from 2005 to 2012.
He has been at Plainview ever since, serving as an assistant coach until he took over as head coach in 2019.
Villa has helped his softball teams to the state playoffs a dozen times, including a trip to the regional quarterfinals in his first season as an assistant in 2013. As head coach of PHS, Villa has guided the Lady Bulldogs to a pair of bi-district playoff screenings.
“Enrique has developed strong softball programs wherever he has been,” said Giacomazzi. “His passion for the sport is contagious. His knowledge will be very beneficial to the development of Wayland’s softball program.”
The first class of Wayland players will have a definite Plainview feel. Even before Villa’s arrival, the Pioneers signed five former Lady Bulldogs among their 10 commitments so far.
“Coach Villa’s premier class will be the leadership foundation for the future of our Pioneer softball program,” said Giacomazzi.
“I’m super excited that the girls who signed took this leap of faith,” Villa said. “I ask them to look forward to seeing what this program can become. Hopefully over the next four years these girls will have the time of their lives and graduate and be ready to take on the world. Hopefully Wayland softball will be a big part of that for them.”
Villa said friends encouraged him to look for Wayland’s job. After that, he said, he simply followed the call of the Lord.
“It was never a career goal to coach at university. I always loved coaching in high school. But I have a daughter who graduated from Wayland and a son on the football team, and I know a lot of good people who love the Lord and who have attended Wayland.
“I decided to take that first step and see where God takes it, then I kept taking steps until He gave me an answer.”
Villa said he was ready to go, but wanted to slow down to give the program the best chance of success.
“I’m ready to go, but I don’t want to come forward. I want to give the girls everything they need to start this journey.”
Villa have a lot of work ahead of them, including ordering equipment, drawing up a schedule and signing more players.
He and his wife Sandra, a second-grade teacher at North Elementary, have four children: Analisa graduated from Wayland in December and now teaches and coaches at Plainview High School; Andrew is a senior member of the Pioneer football team; Adam is a sophomore at West Texas A&M; and Abram is in the fifth grade.
Wayland Baptist University Softball Earlier athletic conference staff