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Coaches
Ellie Viland – Head Coach
Contact: elizabeth.viland@cobbk12.org
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2023 will mark Coach Viland's 3rd season at the helm of the Pope Fastpitch program after serving as an assistant coach for four seasons, from 2017-2020. Coach Viland is an alumni of the Pope Fastpitch program, then returning to serve as an assistant coach under Coach Chris Turco. During Coach Viland's tenure, she assisted the Greyhounds to a top level of competition, finishing each of her 4 seasons as an assistant in Columbus. Coach Viland assisted the program to three straight state championship game appearances in 2018-2020, winning the AAAAAA State Championship in 2019 and finishing as state runners up in 2018 and 2020. Coach Viland has also been involved in 4 consecutive region championship victories as an assistant coach from 2017-2020. Coach Viland was named the Georgia Dugout Club AAAAAA Assistant Coach of the Year in 2019.

As Head Coach since 2021, Coach Viland has been a part of 2 more region championships, 2 trips to Columbus, a 3rd place state finish in 2021 and a State Championship victory in 2022. The 2022 Hounds set a program best wins and winning percentage with a 35-1 record, also earning the highest national finish in program history, with a #2 national ranking from MaxPreps and a #1 national ranking from Extra Innings Softball. In 2022, Coach Viland earned Cobb County Coach of the Year by Marietta Daily Journal and State Coach of the Year by both the Georgia Athletic Coaches Association and The Georgia Dugout Club. Coach Viland has served as a coach for the GADC Senior All Star game and the GACA Junior North/South All Star Game.

Coach Viland graduated from the University of Georgia and has taught at Pope since 2018, first in the special education department and currently in the math department.


Michael Nelson – Varsity Assistant Coach
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Mike Nelson will be coaching his 12th Pope fastpitch season in 2023. Mike graduated from Lassiter High School in 1998 and was part of 2 state runner-up baseball teams in 1995 and 1997 while playing for Hall of Fame coaching legend, Mickey McMurtry. Coach Nelson proved instrumental in his first season on staff, assisting Pope Fastpitch's run to the state championship with his outside the box motivational techniques. Mike's signature moment occurred in early September when he coined the rally cry of "The snowball is rolling" to signify the momentum our team was gaining with each victory we had. During those months of September and October, Pope went 22-1 leading us to the program's first ever trip to Columbus and first state championship game appearance.

Mike's Pope Fastpitch career has known nothing but dominance as the program has qualified for the state playoffs each year of his career finishing in Columbus 11 of the 12 years, and competing in the state championship game 6 of the 12 years he has coached. He has also coached the hounds to 6 region championship victories in the past 10 years and 9 trips to the Final Four. Coach Nelson was awarded the high honor of Assistant Coach of the Year by the Georgia Dugout Club for his efforts with the 2014 state championship team.

Mike earned a scholarship to play baseball at Georgia State University and was a 4-year letterman for the Panthers, spending three of the four years as the Panthers starting 2nd baseman. In 2000, Mike's stellar play earned him a spot on the All-conference tournament team. After capping off his collegiate playing career, Coach Nelson began his successful baseball coaching career with the Georgia State University baseball staff. Coach Nelson spent 2 years at Georgia State helping the team to back-to-back conference tournament appearances for the first time in school history.

Mike also assists the Pope Baseball program. Mike has assisted the program to state championship victories in 2013, 2017, and 2021 and three additional state championship appearances in 2016. , 2019, and 2023. Since Mike began coaching at Pope High School in 2012, he has been a part of 12 state championships between the fastpitch and baseball programs, winning six state championships.

Mike resides in Woodstock with his wife Carla and daughter Avery.

Natalie Lampert - Head Junior Varsity Coach / Assistant Varsity
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Natalie Lampert is a 2011 graduate of Pope High School who returned to her alma mater in 2015 for her inaugural year with Pope Fastpitch. 2023 will mark Coach Lampert's 9th year as a coach in the program. Natalie was a member of the 2010 Pope softball team that secured the program's first ever playoff victory against Creekview High School in the 2010 playoffs. The 2010 team set the school record for wins (at that time) with 19. For her efforts in her senior season of 2010, Natalie was named to the All-State softball team as an outfielder joining fellow Pope coach Jennifer Miller as the only two players at the time to achieve the prestigious award. Natalie's 2010 team was instrumental in the creation and implementation of Pope Fastpitch's tradition of creating a team "Mission Statement" and Natalie was part of Pope Fastpitch's inaugural class of "Mission Protectors".

Coach Lampert served as JV head coach until 2020, and helped lead the JV season to many record breaking seasons. Coach Lampert has served as an assistant varsity coach during her tenure, and has led the team to the playoffs in each of her 8 seasons, reaching the Elite Eight in Columbus for 7 of the 8 seasons, reaching four state championship game in 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2022, and securing the AAAAAA State Championship victory in both 2019 and 2022. The 2022 season continued a streak of 13 straight state playoff appearances started by Lampert's senior class at Pope back in 2010. Coach Lampert was named the GADC State Assistant Coach of the Year in 2019.

Upon graduation from Pope High School, Natalie continued her playing career for coach Jamie Grodecki at Georgia College and State University (GCSU) in Milledgeville, Georgia. At GCSU, Natalie was part of the winningest team in school history as the 2013 team posted a then school record 37 wins. Natalie brings a wealth of experience to the Greyhounds after having played in 85 college games and playing an important role in the GCSU outfield where Natalie made only 1 career error during her college tenure. In two of her college seasons, 2012 and 2014, Natalie posted a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage in the outfield). Natalie was also a force on the bases for GCSU, posting a career 83% success rate in stolen bases while scoring 43 career runs.

In 2015 Natalie earned a bachelor's degree in special education and she is currently part of the special education department at Mt. Bethel Elementary School. She resides in Kennesaw with spouse Jess and kids: Peyton, Kendall, and Brooklyn.

Matt Liedberg - JV/Varsity Assistant
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Coach Liedberg will begin his sixth year on board the Greyhound coaching staff this season. Coach Liedberg's energy, enthusiasm, and expertise at his craft is a secret weapon for the Pope Fastpitch team and has done nothing but build a reputation of success. In his six years on staff, the Hounds have reached the final four, ultimately finishing in third place in 2021, state runner-up in 2018 and 2020, and as AAAAAA State Champions in 2019 and 2022. For his efforts in 2022, Coach Liedberg was named GADC State Assistant Coach of the Year. Coach Liedberg works in all aspects of the program, and leads the pitching and catching staff as our pitching coordinator.

Coach Liedberg is also a member of the Pope baseball staff where he began coaching in the 2018 season. During these 6 years, the baseball program achieved great success as the Greyhounds reached the state championship in 2018, 2019, 2022, and 2023, winning the AAAAAA State Championship in 2019 and 2022, and reaching the final four in the 2021 season (the 2020 spring season was cancelled due to COVID-19). Since Liedberg joined the Pope Baseball and Softball programs in 2018, he has played for 8 state championships, ultimately winning two for baseball (2018, 2022) and two for softball (2019, 2022).

Coach Liedberg is a 2009 graduate of Pope High School where he was a key member of the 2009 Pope Baseball state championship team that finished ranked 10th in the country. As a fire-balling pitcher, Coach Liedberg continued his pitching career at Gardner Webb University in Shelby North Carolina. After completing his playing career, Coach Liedberg worked multiple jobs in the baseball field, working as operations manager for 6-4-3 baseball and serving a short stint as an intern with the Atlanta Braves. It was with the Braves that Coach Liedberg realized his true calling was the education field, and Coach Liedberg went back to school to earn his education degree so he could become a teacher. Coach Liedberg began teaching at Pope during the 2018-2019 school year and is a part of the social studies department after previously working within the Transition Academy. Coach Liedberg resides in Woodstock with fiancé, Emily.

Hannah Rogers – JV/V Assistant Coach
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Hannah Rogers is a 2018 graduate of Pope High School who is returning to her alma mater in 2023 for her second year with the Pope Fastpitch coaching staff. Hannah was a member of the 2014 - 2017 Pope softball teams, achieving a state championship in 2014, final four appearance in 2016, and elite 8 appearance in 2017. Hannah's prestigious high school career included two 1st team all-county nods, three all-region teams, and three years being named to the GACA All-State team.

Upon graduation from Pope High School, Hannah continued her playing career for coach Jamie Grodecki at Georgia College and State University (GCSU) in Milledgeville, Georgia. Hannah had playing time in both the outfield and the pitching circle while at GCSU, and brings a wide range of expertise to the Greyhounds.

Hannah earned a bachelors of science degree in nursing in the spring of 2022 and she is a NICU nurse at Northside Atlanta.

Meghan Rud – JV/V Assistant Coach
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Meghan Rud is in her second season with the Pope Fastpitch coaching staff. A 2014 graduate of South Forsyth High School and went on to a prestigious collegiate career to play for Coach Stephanie DeFeo at Mercer University in Macon.

Meghan Rud is in her second season with the Pope Fastpitch coaching staff. A 2014 graduate of South Forsyth High School and went on to a prestigious collegiate career to play for Coach Stephanie DeFeo at Mercer University in Macon.

Meghan earned a bachelor's degree in psychology and then went on to earn her doctorate of physical therapy from Mercer. She currently works for Form Physical Therapy in Roswell.

Christy Burges – JV Assistant Coach
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Christy Burges (formerly Flick) is a 2011 graduate of Pope High School who returned to her alma mater in 2021 for her inaugural year with Pope Fastpitch and is back in 2023 after a season of maternity leave as she welcomed baby boy Tormund into the world. Christy was a member of the 2010 Pope softball team that secured the program's first ever playoff victory against Creekview High School in the 2010 playoffs. The 2010 team set the school record for wins (at that time) with 19. Christy pitched, played outfield and first base for the Hounds, then went on to play at the collegiate level at Lagrange University, where she was primarily a pitcher and first baseman.

While at Lagrange, Christy played in 120 games, hitting .322 for her career and earned USA South Academic All-Conference and was selected to the USA South All-Tournament team in 2013. In her first year assisting the Hounds, the JV team broke the win record yet again and found great success on and off the field.

Christy earned a degree in business administration with a concentration in entrepreneurship. She resides in East Cobb with her husband, Douglas Burges and 1 year old son Tormund (TJ) Burges.


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