Valley League elects new leaders

Story by Austin Gisriel

Dave Biery and Jim Phillips, two long-time officers of the Valley Baseball League, are stepping down. Biery, who has served as League president since 1985, will be retiring from his post after the 2012 season. Don Lemish, the former athletics director at James Madison University and current commissioner of the Rockingham County Baseball League, will be taking his place. Lemish will serve as assistant to the president for the upcoming season.

“It’s been a great adventure,” says Biery, who cites the expansion of the league from six to 12 teams as a major accomplishment of his tenure because it doubled the opportunity for college players to improve their skills. He also views the change of the league’s status from profit to nonprofit as another significant achievement of his presidency.

Lemish’s baseball background includes 16 years as a collegiate umpire, as well as a coaching stint with Clover Hill of the RCBL.

“I have the utmost respect for the Valley League and regard it as an honor to even be considered for the position of president,” he said.

Phillips, who has been league treasurer since 1996 and has been associated with the Winchester Royals for over 30 years, would like to see the League increase its marketing efforts, noting that the Valley League “has a great product to sell, especially as wonderful family entertainment.”

Taking over for Phillips as treasurer is Gene Davis, a certified public accountant and partner in the firm of Swisher and Davis in Lexington. Davis has served as the public address announcer and as a host parent for the Staunton Braves, and his interest in the Valley League is longstanding.

“I grew up watching the Shenandoah Indians play in the 1960s,” remarks Davis. “I’m a baseball guy through and through!”

The VBL will also have a new secretary, as Ken Newman did not seek re-election. Megan Smith, a teacher in Rockingham County, is the new secretary. A lifelong baseball fan, her involvement with the Harrisonburg Turks motivated her to become involved with the VBL itself. Newman will remain general manager of the Rockbridge Rapids.

Bruce Alger continues as vice president of the VBL.