Our Coaching Staff
Pitching Instructor + Head Coach of the 2020 14U Black VBA Travel Baseball Teams
Rickie Diehl started North Alabama Vipers travel baseball team in 1998 to provide a more competitive atmosphere and a more structured learning environment for the players in his area. The success of this one team helped to establish Viper Baseball Academy in 2003 - bringing kids from not only the North Alabama region, but players from all over the state of Alabama and Tennessee.
Since then, Rickie has produced teams that have gone on to win countless state championships and world series. Over the past 15 years alone, Rickie has served as head coach for over 150 college baseball players and 30 drafted Major League Baseball players. Along with the success of his players, Rickie has won over 1500 games, 78 tournaments, 4 world series, and 11 USSSA state championships. Coach Diehl has also served as the 2011 USSSA Alabama Coach of the Year and has been inducted into the Alabama USSSA Coaches Hall of Fame.
Along with the success of Viper Baseball Academy, Rickie also operates his family business Diehl Automotive in Huntsville, Alabama where he resides. He is a husband to Patricia Diehl and father to his three children: Shawn, Ryan, and Megan. When he’s not out coaching baseball, he enjoys spending time with his family and fishing.
Hitting Instructor + Fielding Instructor + Head Coach of the 2020 15U Black VBA Travel Baseball Team + an Assistant Coach of the 2020 17u Red and Black VBA Travel Baseball Teams
Coach Shawn Diehl is a graduate from Belhaven University where he played under, Mississippi Hall of Fame Coach, Hill Denson. Shawn was a switch hitting shortstop and helped lead Belhaven to the NAIA World Series in Lewiston, Idaho. He has coached 10U-17U VBA teams. Shawn has been training and developing baseball players at VBA from 2010 to present. He also assists other local travel teams to help develop better coaching and spread knowledge to the baseball community. " My ultimate goal is to teach a player how to coach himself both mentally and mechanically, thats when I know I've done a good job."
Coach Wright is a 1983 graduate of Lee High School. He helped lead the Generals to two state semi-final appearances in 1981 and 1983. His 30 year career wins as a pitcher at Lee makes him the school's all-time wins' leader. He played baseball at Calhoun Community College and the University of North Alabama. Coach Wright began his coaching career at Lee High School, coaching football, basketball and baseball before moving to Buckhorn in 1997 as the head baseball coach and a history teacher. His 1998, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006 teams all competed in the state playoffs at the 5A level. The 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2012 teams competed at the state playoffs at the 6A level. The 2012 team set the BHS school record for wins at 36. At the end of 2014, Coach Wright retired from BHS and became the pitching coach at the University of Alabama Huntsville. In 2016, he was inducted into the Madison County Athletic Hall of Fame. Coach Wright is married to Belinda and they have three sons: Mitchell (25) who is now a pitching coach at Tennessee Tech, Kyle (22) who is a Pitcher with the Atlanta Braves and Trey (17) who is a junior at BHS.
Hitting Instructor + Head Coach of the 2019, 14u Red VBA Travel Baseball Team
Coach Ryan Diehl is a 2009 graduate of Sparkman High School where he help lead the Senators to consecutive playoff appearances and a semi finals appearance in 2008. Ryan went on to play baseball at Northwest Shoals Community College, and later finished his degree at the University of Alabama. Ryan's competitive playing career with VBA started 1998 with the North Alabama Vipers, where he helped the vipers win countless tournaments, state championships, world series championships, and a prized Cooperstown championship in week 2 of 2002. Ryan's baseball knowledge, experience, and love for the game now translates into coaching, where he is a hitting instructor at VBA and coaches the 14u VBA Red travel team. Ryan lives in Madison with his wife Nichole, and had their first son, Banks, in the Spring of 2019.
Hitting Instructor + Assistant Coach of the 2019, 16u Black VBA Travel Baseball Team
Coach Telaga has been training and developing hitters at VBA from 2006 to present. He began coaching Viper Baseball teams in 2007 and recently served as head coach of the 2015 12u team. Coach Telaga spent the last 4 years on the Bob Jones baseball staff and prior to that was the assistant head coach at Sparkman High School for 10 years. Chris lives in Meridianville with his wife Sherri and his two kids Maggie and Garrett.
Pitching Instructor + Head Coach of the 2019, 15u Black VBA Travel Baseball Team
Coach Talley is a 2012 graduate of Buckhorn High School. At Buckhorn he helped lead the Bucks to a 2012 elite eight playoff appearance, which also set the school record for team wins. During the same season he was named team MVP at Buckhorn and named to the all - area team. After his career at Buckhorn Coach Talley went to Calhoun Community College where he played 3rd base and pitched. As a sophomore he hit .346 and was named to the all ACCC - North team. After Calhoun, he finished his playing career at the University of North Alabama where as a senior he won Academic All - Gulf South Conference and led the team with a 1.86 ERA and 5 saves. During that same year Coach Talley won the Bob Stephenson award given by UNA for the person that best represents UNA baseball on and off the field. Currently Coach Talley is the head coach at Scottsboro High School.
Head Coach of the 2020, 17u Black VBA Travel Baseball Team
Andrew Dennis “A.D.” is a former minor league catcher for the Pittsburgh Pirates organization. He played for VBA since 2002. A.D. also played on the 2005, week 3 Cooperstown Championship Team, the Rocket City Stingers. He graduated from Huntsville High where he played baseball and had the privilege of playing on their 2011 State championship team and was crowned the 2011 player of the year. Following high school, Andrew signed with Wallace State and was a 2 year starter on their baseball team. In 2013 he signed with UAB, but was instead drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 37th round. A.D. is a tough competitor but has the heart and patience of a teacher and desires to pass his knowledge on to the next generation of Elite players.
Coach of the 2019, 17u Red and Black VBA Travel Baseball Teams
Coach West is a graduate and former pitcher at Auburn University, 2007-2009. He graduated from Sparkman High School where he played baseball, football, and basketball. Coach West played baseball for Rickie Diehl before VBA was established and has coached the 11U - 15U Viper teams over the previous 4 seasons. Coach West is a tremendous motivator and teacher of the game.
“I consider it a privilege to share my knowledge of the game with young athletes. I am also honored to learn from Coach Diehl as I grow as a mentor. Rickie is the ultimate competitor and his passion to teach young players how to compete in the game of baseball, as well as life, is evident every day I am around him.”
Head Coach of the 2019, 13u Red VBA Travel Baseball Team
GA Student- Athlete of the year 2007, Rawlings Top 25 Seniors 2008, Team Georgia Top 20 2008, School Record 0.90 ERA 2008, Team USA selection for WolrdPort Games 2009, Sunbelt League All Star 2010-11, College World Series 2012 and 2013, SSAC Gold Glove Winner 2013, College World Series All Tournament Team 2013, Roswell Invaders 2014-2015, Led league in ERA 2014, Won Champoinship in 2015, Fargo Redhawks 2015, Florence Freedom 2016, River City Rascals 2016
Head Coach- Tigers Baseball 13U, Top 15 in state 2016-2017
Married to Jeannie Wright and have a dog named Wilson.
Assistant Coach of the 2019, 15u Red VBA Travel Baseball Team
From Russellville, AL, class of 2015. Went to Shelton State Community College in 2016-2017. Then transferred to Western Kentucky where he is currently in his senior year.
Head Coach of the 2019, 16u Red VBA Travel Baseball Team
From Fort Payne, AL. Student Athlete/ Catcher at Central Alabama Community College and the University North Alabama. Current Hitting Coach at Russellville High School.
Head Coach of the 2019, 12u VBA Travel Baseball Team
Coach Mike is a 2002 graduate from Hazel Green High School. While playing Varsity, he earned All- County Honors in his sophomore, junior and senior years of high school; while also learning the All-Metro Honor and The Keith Garrison Award in his senior season. He went to North-West Shoals Community College on an athletic scholarship. Coach Mike has coached high level travel ball teams ranging in ages 10u-17u for 12 years and has seen some of his players go on to play at the college level. Coach Mike is married to Hannah and they have four boys combined, Blake (14), Landen (14), Parker (12), and Nolan (2).
"There is no greater feeling than to see a kid that didn't have much success early, go on to develop into a ballplayer that his coaches and teammates can trust simply by being able to be coach-able and honest with himself."
Head Coach of the 2019, 15u Red VBA Travel Baseball Team
Coach Heaps played baseball for Hartselle High School where he led his team to Hartselle's first ever Baseball State Championship his senior year in 1990. He signed to Gadsden State Community College on scholarship and drafted as middle infielder in 1991 by the New York Yankees where he played three seasons. He coached fifteen years as Assistant Coach at Hartselle High School where he helped lead the Tigers to five State Championship appearances, winning three championships in 1999, 2000, and 2009 as well as runner up finishes in 1998 and 2010. In 2012 he took on his first Head Coaching job at Central- Phenix City where he led them to the 6A final four and was named 2012's ASWA 6A Coach of the year. In 2013 he became the Head Coach at Russellville High School where he has led the Golden Tigers to four consecutive State Championship appearance from 2015-2018, winning back to back championships in 2015, 2016, and 2017. He was selected by the National Federation of High Schools as the 2017 Alabama High School Baseball Coach of the Year. In his last four years at Russellville he has had eighteen All-State selections, two 5A Player of the Year Recipients, one 5A Pitcher of the Year recipient, two Super All-State Team selections, and three players who were selected by Collegiate Baseball as All-Americans. Coach Heaps is married to Michele of seventeen years and they have 4 children, Ashley, Braxton, Brayden and Casen.
Operations/ Coaches Assistant