BELMONT, N.C. – Belmont Abbey Assistant Softball Coach Tony Mele has been elevated to the head coaching position, Director of Athletics Stephen Miss announced today.
In his role as an assistant last year, Mele was instrumental in a vast improvement from the previous season. The Crusaders posted a 20-20 overall record during the regular season and earned the No. 7 seed in the conference tournament, where they upset No. 2 King, 5-2. A pair of Crusaders -- Claire Doyle and Payton Whitley -- were named first-team All-Conference Carolinas.
"As we endeavored to identify the next head coach of our Softball program, it became apparent that our primary objective was to provide our students, including our future prospects, with consistency and continuity in leadership," Miss said. "Concurrent to, and perhaps fueling, this growing awareness among those conducting our search, Tony Mele, with the assistance of Sierra Vanzant, distinguished himself as a highly competent leader while serving as head coach in an interim capacity.
Coach Mele, who benefits tremendously from having honed his skills while serving in a leadership capacity in multiple corporate organizations as well as in establishing and running his own businesses and travel softball programs, emerged as uniquely prepared and ideally suited to mentor, teach, and coach our students, to form and develop them body, mind, and soul, and to enable them to realize their full potential so as to become a blessing to themselves and others."
Mele came to Belmont Abbey last fall with 10 years of softball coaching experience at all levels and age groups. As a Team NC travel coach, he recruited and coached several players who are now committed to college play. Trained through the NFCA, Mele is well respected among players and coaches. His background prior to softball includes various leadership positions at Fortune 500 companies, where he gained extensive knowledge in planning, team building and budgeting. He also started his own real estate and software companies.
"I would like to thank Abbot Placid Solari, O.S.B., President Thierfelder and Stephen Miss for entrusting me with this great responsibility," Mele said. "I am very excited about this opportunity to take an expanded role in the development of our young ladies in the Belmont Abbey Softball Program. Having previously taught at Belmont Abbey as well, it feels great to be back at an institution that embraces the development of the students both on and off the field while doing something that is a passion of mine. I look forward to continuing to strengthen the culture and competitiveness of our program."
Mele received his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Connecticut in 1989 and his M.B.A from Wake Forest University in 1995. He and his wife, Helene, reside in Denver, N.C., with their two children, Hallie and Anthony.