Hendersonville Rangers Baseball
NASHVILLE SINCE 1977
Andy Gilley isn’t ready to take off the uniform just yet. There’s too much left to do. The Nashville-native and Beech High School Alum has spent the past 18 years as the baseball coach at Hendersonville High School, and has teamed up with Nashville songwriter, Ben Hayslip, to form a travel baseball program that is providing kids in central Tennessee the opportunity to play in college.
Growing up in Nashville, baseball was Andy’s passion. He played at Beech High School, but his career was cut short after sustaining an injury. “I played, and I ended up getting hurt,” said Gilley. “It was either coach or figure out what I wanted to do in life and I had no clue. I don’t care if you’re 12 or 27, whenever you can’t play anymore…you gotta figure out what you want to do.” Though he went on to earn a degree from Middle Tennessee State University, Andy knew his calling was back in the dugout. “I had a business degree, but all I really wanted to do was coach baseball. Hendersonville High School kind of created a teaching job for me, and I’ve been able to coach for 18 years.”
Along with his responsibilities at Hendersonville, Gilley has teamed up with an old coaching foe to form one of the leading travel baseball programs in the area. Together they run the Nashville Rawlings Southeast Baseball teams. “My friend, Ben Hayslip, and I played against each other and we got tired of beating each other’s brains in,” he said, “so we combined together. We have 13 teams now, ages 7 to 17. We’ve tried to keep it affordable and get kids in front of every college coach we can.”
Though Hayslip spends time as a partner with Rawlings Southeast, he’s better known for the work he’s accomplished in his day job as a songwriter. He’s written sixteen #1 hits, including Blake Shelton’s “Honey Bee” and “All About Tonight,” “Put a Girl In It” by Brooks & Dunn, and “When She Says Baby” by Jason Aldean. Along with being a successful writer, Ben is also a former Georgia Southern baseball player, and played in the College World Series. Andy says that Hayslip provides enhanced visibility and credibility for the program, which ultimately leads to greater opportunity for their kids. “It’s been interesting for me to watch all these college coaches gravitate towards Ben when they find out he’s written all these songs,” said Gilley. “Some college coaches will show up just to talk to Ben, and all of a sudden our kids get showcased.”
The duo has created a family-like atmosphere at Rawlings Southeast and share a relentless work ethic that initially drew them to one another. “What brought us together the most is our nose-to-the-grindstone approach to songwriting, to coaching, and just the way we go about life,” says Gilley. “I’m just gonna put my head down, go to work, and do the best I can at it.” Their program is entering their sixth year, and they’ve seen the fruits of their players’ labor show up both on and off the diamond. “I get more reward out of seeing what a kid does after they play for me,” Andy says.
Gilley lives a hectic daily life, experiencing highs and lows as a coach, teacher, mentor, and businessman. The fear of failure is a daily motivator. “I don’t want to wake up any day and get outworked by somebody. I feel like if I’m not doing something, then somebody over here is getting ahead of me.” He says that the losses are much more memorable than the victories, and that he struggles with the thought of ever disappointing his kids. “Every time you feel like you’ve let a kid down…maybe you’ve put them in a place where they didn’t succeed…I hate that,” he says. “I hate when you have to tell a kid that they’re not good enough to be on your team. Not everyone can do that…I’m not good at it to this day.”
Andy and Ben have plans to continue growing Rawlings Southeast, giving more kids the chance to fulfill their dreams of playing baseball in college, while also serving as mentors and leaders during a very influential time of their lives. “Baseball is life,” says Gilley. “It teaches you sportsmanship and skill sets that you can carry with you. It’s a game of failure. And the people who handle failure the best are the ones who ultimately succeed.” As for when Gilley will call it a career, don’t hold your breath. “I want to keep doing it until someone tears the jersey off my back.”
Keep up with Hendersonville High School’s Baseball team here.
Follow Andy Gilley on Instagram at @andygilley1
Follow Ben Hayslip on Instagram at @benhayslip