Scholar-Athlete Award Winner Shane Pitcher to Run at Hope College –

One final visit was enough to change the mind of Saline cross country and track runner Shane Pitcher to choose what college he wanted to go to to run at the next level. 

Hope College was the last visit by Pitcher after visiting a few schools. “I had made up my mind on another school before my visit to Hope, but I felt I owed them a visit and I was really impressed,” Pitcher said. “The people are so nice and the campus was beautiful. Coach Norty is a phenomenal coach and he won me over with his pitch. The boys all buy-in and we all want to win and they’re all really close. That’s something I want to be a part of.”

Pitcher didn’t start running until eighth grade. “I was a baseball kid and I quit the team because of a bad coach. I decided to run because a lot of my friends did it and I thought it would get me in shape,” Pitcher said.

Despite his late start to running, Pitcher put his name among the long list of elite Saline runners with an All-Region finish at this year’s D1 Regional.

Photo from Saline Athletics

“This year’s Regional was the favorite memory of my career,” Pitcher said. “We were slated to win the race for the second straight year, and we not just won but had 7 of the top 13 runners and all of us went all-region. We all ran so well, and I just remember getting off the line and screaming and yelling and celebrating with my teammates.”

Pitcher excelled in the classroom as well and was selected by the MHSAA as one of eight Division 1 male athletes to receive the 2023 Scholar-Athlete Award.

To be selected for the award the student-athlete must carry at least a 3.50 GPA. They must have two letters of recommendation and write a 500-word essay on the importance of sportsmanship in educational athletics.

“It really means a lot to me. I am the 3rd male runner from Saline to earn the MHSAA Scholar-Athlete award along with Connor Meehan and Aidan Carichner,” Pitcher said. “Those boys are kids who coach still talks about today for their impact on Saline as runners, students, and people so to be in the same sentence with them is pretty sweet. There are so many amazing applicants every year so to be one of 8 D1 boys picked is incredible and I’m very grateful and proud.”

Pitcher will be studying secondary education with an emphasis on social studies. This was a big reason for his college choice as Hope is ranked in the top three for Secondary Education in the state.” My goal is to be able to teach US History, US Government, Economics, World History, and Geography in 7th-12th grade. I will also be minoring in Exercise Science to help me be a better coach and a better athlete myself.”

imagePhoto by Mike Williamson

When asked by STN who the biggest influences on his running career were, Pitcher had a long list of people to recognize.

“I want to start with my coaches; Coach Spina, Coach Leslie (both of them), Coach Stern, Coach Ornelas, Coach Boze, and Coach Hernandez. There’s so much I could say about all of them because they all had unique roles and influences on my running career, especially Coach Spina,” Pitcher said. “I also want to shout out guys like Andrew Victoria, Nathan Luther, Will Minnette, and Chris Van Dyke who were upperclassmen that made me feel welcome on the team. And also, guys like Drew, Stew, Truman, Sam, Elijah, Stern, Jamie, Max, Dom, Jason, Zaske, and more who helped push me every day in workouts and races. I am so lucky and so fortunate to have had the teammates I had.”

When asked if there was anything he wanted people to know about him, Shane said there were three things that cross country taught him… 1) You will never regret working harder and being tougher because it does pay off. 2) Fight like hell for the things you love. 3) It doesn’t cost anything to put a smile on your face and be a friend to someone else.

If future Saline cross country runners follow these suggestions by Pitcher, the future of the Hornets program will continue to prosper as it has for over the past decade.

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