FAYETTEVILLE HIGH School (FHS) hired Fayetteville native Billy Jack Netherland as the new head coach of the Tigers baseball team, toward the beginning of the school year. Known as Coach B.J. on the baseball field, Netherland, 56, previously served as the baseball head coach at Fayetteville Middle School (FMS) for the last 10 years.
The coaching position became available after former baseball head coach Jay McElyea announced his retirement near the end of last spring. About a decade ago, Netherland had asked McElyea to accept that very same position. Having known him since childhood, Netherland knew McElyea would make a great coach.
“He did an amazing job over there,” Netherland said. “And he just decided it was time for him to step down, and I told him I would take it over.”
But McElyea will still be at FHS.
“I had the chance to coach and develop some great kids,” McElyea said, in a May retirement post on Facebook, “and I will cherish that forever. I am still working at FHS and coaching golf. I’m looking forward to that.”
Netherland’s goal for his new baseball team is to ensure his players become great students, athletes, and citizens, carrying themselves well.
“I’m [going to] try to instill good work ethics in them, teach them how to be mentally tough and be competitive and just give 100%,” coach B.J. said. “The main thing is never give up no matter what the score is. Don’t even look at the scoreboard. Just play as hard as you can, and good things will come from that.”
The new high school head coach will also look to return the Tigers to greatness, as the team experienced a down year last season, losing most of its games. The team had winning seasons prior to the 2021-22 season.
Baseball has been a part of Netherland’s life since the days of playing ball with his father, as a young child, in the family’s backyard.
A Fayetteville, Tennessee native, Netherland graduated from Lincoln County High School in 1984, having played multiple sports, including baseball. He also played on the first Lincoln County Falcon state championship football team. After high school, he worked at Copperweld Bimetallics, LLC., in Fayetteville for about 23 years. He has two grown sons, Brandon and Ben.
When FHS was established in 2011, the FMS baseball coach at the time, transferred to the high school, leaving the middle school without a coach. That’s when the FMS principal, Steve Giffin, an old friend of Netherland, called him asking if he was interested in the vacant position, and coach B.J. was born.
High school coaches played an important role in Netherland’s life. Now he wants to return the favor.
“I know my coaches back then were a very huge part of my life, and I decided that’s what I wanted to do,” Netherland said. “And I try to give back to these kids anyway I can. I enjoy it. I love it. I’m just thankful to have the opportunity to work with these kids and try to be a good role model and influence in their lives.”
Outside of baseball, Netherland loves music and has served as a disc jockey at weddings. He is also a huge fan of the Alabama Crimson Tide football program. GN