Growing up, it was always Tim Welch’s dream to play college baseball. He had always been a talented athlete in his youth, but when personal issues arose that forced him to drop out of high school, he believed his dream to become a college athlete was crushed.
He spent years working part-time jobs before enlisting in the military in 1976. He was stationed at Fort Lewis as a Military Police Officer, and eventually started coaching youth baseball on the side.
“I loved coaching, but I still always felt like I blew my chances of ever playing college baseball,” he said.
His captain in the military saw great potential in Welch, and this encouragement inspired him to enroll in classes at Pierce College and earn his high school diploma.
But when Welch left the military a couple of years later, he couldn’t shake the desire to play college baseball. “At the time, I still had the desire and the ability to play baseball,” he said. “The only thing that was missing was the opportunity.”
He marched into Coach Karl Benson’s office, introduced himself and said he’d like to try out for the team.
Benson said he already had a full team roster. “He also said that because I had the courage to come into the office and ask him to play, that I could have a chance,” Welch said.
It quickly became clear to Benson that Welch had talent. “I ended up becoming the starting pitcher, and it was all because Coach Benson gave me an opportunity to try out for the team,” Welch said.
After his first year as a walk-on student athlete, Welch earned an athletic scholarship and was able to finish his associate degree.
This year, the former coach and athlete are teaming up to offer a special scholarship opportunity for student athletes who are in a similar position as Welch. The Raider Award is a $500 scholarship, presented to one female and one male second-year student-athlete who have each completed their first year of athletic participation at Pierce College.
Prospective recipients must have been without athletic scholarships during their first year, and should be a walk-on or invitee who earned a place on the team based on athletic performance.
Nominations for the scholarship are open to all sports.
“We want student-athletes to know that if they work hard and exemplify the dedication and desire that Tim Welch had, they have an opportunity to earn this second-year scholarship,” Coach Karl Benson said.
The recipients for this year’s inaugural Raider Award are Anna Lennox and Colten Barnes.
Lennox, a graduate of Franklin Pierce High School, led the Raider Softball team in nearly every offensive statistic during her freshman year, and split time at third base and as pitcher. She plans to pursue a career in nursing.
Barnes, a graduate of Curtis High School, was one of the standouts on the Raider Baseball pitching staff in 2015. He compiled the team’s third-best earned run average, and had a 3-to-1 strike-out to walk ratio. He plans to study kinesiology and pursue a career in a related field.