The Willard Baseball Legends Club began in the Spring of 2019 as a way to honor the all-time greats of Willard Tiger Baseball. These honorees have each had a great impact upon the program and its continued success. Each spring following a varsity home contest, a new Legend is added to the club. The following biographies highlight the current members and the impact that they have had upon the program.
John Hartley (2019)
One of the all-time winningest coaches in the history of the Ozarks, longtime Willard Head Coach John Harley became the first member of the Willard Legends Club when he was inducted following the Tigers home victory over Waynesville on April 12, 2019. Hartley served as the Tigers head coach for many years until his retirement at the end of the 2007 season. He led Willard to 7 District Titles as well as State Final Four appearances in 1991 and 2003. After a long and successful career at Willard, Hartley would go on to serve as Head Coach at College of the Ozarks and later became the first head coach of the new baseball program at New Covenant Academy, leading the Warriors to the State Title game in just their second season as a program in 2016. Hartley retired from NCA as the end of the 2020 season. Hartley's son, Tyler, was an all-state outfielder for the Tigers during the 2007 season.
Justin Atchison (2021)
Former Willard player and coach Justin Atchison became the second member of the Legends Club in a ceremony following the Tigers home victory over Neosho on April 15, 2021. Atch was an outstanding pitcher for the Tigers during Final Four runs in 2012 and 2013. Known for his bulldog competitiveness on the mound, Atch pitched the Tigers to state with a 3-2 victory over Columbia Rock Bridge in May 2013 and later toed the rubber against perrenial power CBC in the State Semifinals. After arm injuries shortened his collegiate career at Evangel, Atch joined the Tigers coaching staff where he instantly became a favorite with all the players. His ability to make connections and get the best out of everyone had an immediate impact. He was especially close with the Senior class of 2020. Tragically Justin Atchison lost his life on November 10, 2018 following a hunting accident. He was just 24 years old. With memories of Atch still fresh in their hearts and minds, the 2019 Tigers made a run to the state Final Four, culminating with a 3rd place finish and a 30-7 overall record.