Scott Atkins has worked side by side with fellow Physical Education Teacher Sandy Hill at Andrew Lewis Middle School for 27 years now. The two played baseball together at Virginia Tech, and even competed on the same team at Glenvar High School back in the 70’s.
In fact, these two’s story together goes back even further. This pair played rec baseball against each other as far back as the late 1960’s.
And now, there can be one more item added to the list of things they share – an induction in the Roanoke-Salem Baseball Hall of Fame.
Hill was honored in 1998. Atkins was officially inducted on Thursday, January 30, as part of the annual ceremony at Salem Civic Center. The 58 year old is a former baseball coach at Salem High School and the current softball head man at Lewis. His baseball career ended after his time at Virginia Tech due to an array of injuries, but it did not prevent him from staying involved in the game, and making an impact on his community to lead up to his induction.
“I was very honored,” said Atkins. “It’s important because it comes from the people that live around you and your neighbors…it all comes full circle.”
"He's like a brother to me," said Hill. “He’s definitely someone you can count on and confide in and just talk to. When I played in the minors, I can remember there being a lot of players who definitely were not as good as Scott."
Atkins’ coach at Virginia Tech, Bob Humphreys, a 1994 inductee, was the honorary speaker at the banquet. He was 135-60 in his time in Blacksburg, and led the Hokies to two NCAA tournament berths during his tenure. Atkins credits his leadership for not only making him the player he was, but the educator, as well.
“Growing up with these guys who cared a lot about their students, and young people made it an easier transition for me to go into this,” he said. “It just seemed like the natural thing to do.”
It may seem natural now, three decades later, but it was not always that way. Atkins thought he may have initially been in over his head.
“When I first got to middle school, I didn’t think I could handle it,” he said. “It just takes so much patience…but now, there’s no other age group I could ever teach.”
One of the students Atkins made an impact on is now the man he works for – Andrew Lewis Principal Forest Jones.
“Mr. Atkins has always been a fine example of what it means to be a teacher, coach, and leader,” he said. "He is a positive male role model, and I credit him for being a mentor of mine."
“He’s just been a great friend to be around,” said Hill. "He enjoys students, and he really puts an emphasis on living healthy.”
The evolution of physical education is something Atkins has adjusted to over the years. Thousands of students have been in a class, but it was different for many of them.
“PE has changed a lot,” he said. “It used to be teachers would just roll the ball out and say ok kids, go at it…now it’s more structured, and we think about the kid’s future and how they view fitness. We teach a lot of lifetime knowledge for them.”
Atkins accepted his honor with many of his childhood coaches in attendance. In his speech, he referenced toughness and appreciation for people that helped him along the way. He credits faith, good parenting, and leadership for getting him to the point he is today.
He leaned on that help to get him through his own tough times - a point in which realized his purpose was to teach - working at a carpet shop for a short time before going to finish his final three classes at Tech to ultimately get a job doing what he loves.
“I say to kids all the time what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” he said. “You have to persevere through the tough times, because there are always good times ahead.”
Scott and his wife Kathy have three daughters, Kendall, Kelsey, and Kallie. The older two are both Salem graduates, while Kallie is a junior on the cheerleading squad. His brother, Rick, is the sheriff for the City of Salem.