In 1981, when Coach John Whited arrived in Knoxville to become the head baseball coach at the University of Tennessee, he was surprised to learn there was no local high school baseball coaches association in the Knoxville area. Whited had previously coached at Kingsport's Dobyns Bennett High School and at East Tennessee State University, both in the Tri-Cities where they did have an active coaches association. His plans were to not only help and promote high school baseball in the immediate Knoxville area, but to also help grow his UT program. After several organizational meetings with various local high school coaches, the Knoxville Area Baseball Coaches Association was started.
The association’s mission from the start has been to promote high school baseball in the East Tennessee area. Coaches conduct monthly meetings, usually from September through February, where organization plans are discussed. Many meetings will have guest speakers from local college programs or professional baseball. Other association offerings have included clinics, pre-season Play Day games at several high school locations, senior games held at Smokies Park in Kodak at the end of each high school season, and selection of all association teams at the end of the year.
In the mid-1990’s, in an effort to expand the scope of the KABCA, a name change happened with the intent of providing a more regionally inclusive name. The KABCA became the East Tennessee Baseball Coaches Association. This has helped generate additional membership. Currently, the ETBCA has coaches representing schools from nine different counties in East Tennessee, plus coaches from at least three local private schools. In 1997, the ETBCA inducted its first Hall of Fame class, recognizing outstanding current and former coaches. This annual recognition has been a huge success. Currently, there have been nearly fifty Hall of Fame inductees who have been remembered and honored by the association. This list represents at least twenty-five area schools, with some schools having multiple inductees.
Fulfilling Coach John Whited’s original goals, the East Tennessee Baseball Coaches Association has been promoting local high school baseball for forty years through the numerous, previously mentioned association activities.