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Blue Map Couple

Alexandria baseball coach Zac Welch holds the 2024 state-title trophy he and his team earned, and wife Whitney Welch holds the 2017 state-title trophy that she and her volleyball team earned. (Photo by Joe Medley)
Alexandria baseball coach Zac Welch holds the 2024 state-title trophy he and his team earned, and wife Whitney Welch holds the 2017 state-title trophy that she and her volleyball team earned. (Photo by Joe Medley)

Alexandria, AL – Mutually supportive relationship helps Alexandria’s Zac, Whitney Welch put coveted AHSAA trophies in alma mater’s case.

By Joe Medley

Zac and Whitney Welch came up in a high school culture where individual understatement equals ethic but team championships never go understated.

As of this week, they became a rare “Blue Map” couple.

Alexandria’s baseball team, with former Valley Cub Zac Welch as its skipper, clinched the school’s first state title in that sport Tuesday, finishing off a sweep of Mobile Christian in the Alabama High School Athletic Association’s Class 5A title series.

That means Larry R. Ginn Gymnasium will soon have a new “ball on the wall” for baseball, but the trophy case already shows a brand new AHSAA “Blue Map.”

It fits nicely with several others in the case, including three that Whitney Welch helped to put in there. She played on the 2004 state-title softball team, was an assistant coach on the 2014 state-title softball team and was head coach of the 2017 state-title volleyball team.

No one was happier than Zac Welch’s wife to see him join the fun.

“Honestly, I’m not real good at the coach’s wife thing,” she said. “I was way more nervous for him. I wanted it worse for him than I think I ever have anyone.

“We just feel really blessed and grateful to be able to do it, and just to be able to do what we love, especially at where we’re from.”

Zac Welch played football and baseball for Alexandria before carrying on his baseball career at Alabama. He was a long-time assistant coach in baseball until Andy Shaw retired, after the 2022 season.

Alexandria principal Jason Deason quickly elevated Welch to head coach, and he took over developing what became this season’s 15-member senior class. Almost all came up from the Alexandria youth programs.

Steeped in the Alexandria way, he and they met their moment in 2024.

Equally steeped in the Alexandria way, Whitney Welch had her part.

“She spent so many hours in the concessions stand, and her dad cooked about 2,000 hot dogs, maybe more,” Zac Welch said. “It might’ve been 10,000 hot dogs and hamburgers this year.

“Just successful in raising money inside of our program but also just the support and love that they show me and our team and players and families of our players, it’s just really special. It makes me feel good on the inside. We’ve got a good thing.”

Zac Welch plays the supportive role during the fall, when volleyball is played. They pick each other’s coaching brains “all the time,” Whitney said. Whitney Welch said she has taken helpful tips from Zac with fundraising and the volleyball team’s weight program.

The melding of personalities has helped both to handle the pressures of coaching.

“He’s taught me how to have fun, honestly,” Whitney Welch said. “I’m way more uptight, I think, than he is. In this run, he was a little more uptight, so sometimes it flips, but he really has shown me how to settle down and calm down and have fun and enjoy the moment.”

Zac Welch said he draws upon his wife’s penchant for preparation.

“I tend to be overly relaxed in big spots,” he said. “I don’t think the moments really get to me. I can crack a joke at times when I really shouldn’t.

“Whitney is the opposite. I think she’s overly prepared in those moments. Watching her do that and find comfort in that over preparation has been interesting and allowed me to shore up my preparation skills.”

Alexandria’s baseball team met the big moment, going 21-1 down the stretch. The one loss came in the Valley Cubs’ only playoff series that went three games … the quarterfinal series between top-ranked Alexandria and No. 2 Sardis.

This all happened while “Byrd” Welch, Zac’s father and Whitney’s father-in-law, battled through complications from open-heart surgery.

Predictably, Whitney Welch ranked among the most nervous Valley Cubs fans at the ballparks.

“I don’t think it’s really sunk in, just yet, but I’m just so excited for him and his boys and his program,” she said. “It’s been a long time coming. He waited for so long, so that just made it even more special.

“It is emotional, and I’m even more emotional about this because they deserve it, too, man. They deserve it. It’s exciting and hard.”

 

Alexandria baseball coach Zac Welch holds the 2024 state-title trophy he and his team earned, and wife Whitney Welch holds the 2017 state-title trophy that she and her volleyball team earned. (Photo by Joe Medley)
Alexandria baseball coach Zac Welch holds the 2024 state-title trophy he and his team earned, and wife Whitney Welch holds the 2017 state-title trophy that she and her volleyball team earned. (Photo by Joe Medley)

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