Middlesboro High School has filled two vacancies within their athletic department. Friday, Steve Spangler was introduced as the school’s new athletic director and Ron Edwards as the new girls’ basketball coach.
“Coach Edwards has a long history in basketball as a player and a coach and I think he’s going to do a great job with our Lady Jacket team. We introduced him to the team (Friday) and they all seemed very excited and we are, too,” MHS principal Bobby Bennett said. “Coach Spangler has been around MHS athletics for a long time and he’s got a lot of knowledge that we can depend on and he’s going to help our athletic department tremendously. We’re excited to add both of them.”
Spangler is a Middlesboro graduate and has a long history of coaching at both MHS and Middlesboro Middle School.
“I feel like it’s a real honor,” Spangler said of being named athletic director. “I went to school here and played baseball here. I started coaching here in middle school basketball and helped coach (Bill) Powell with the baseball for a long time.”
He has his Master’s in Athletics Administration and said working in that position has been one of his career goals.
“I really enjoy kids and I enjoy athletics. I’ve got a big learning curve with things, but I think I’ll get there,” Spangler said. “I think our athletic program is in good shape, we just have to work to get better and involve our community. We’re on the right track and I’m thrilled to be here.”
Edwards is well-known around the 13th Region for his work in recent years as a football and basketball referee. His roots in basketball run all the way back to his days as a player at Graham High School in Bluefield, Va.
The all-time leading scorer at the school, he led Graham to a state runner-up finish in 1974. Edwards followed that up by being named captain of the All-Area Team and was named to Virginia’s All-State Team in 1975. He went on to play basketball at Virginia Tech where he played played in both the NCAA and NIT tournaments.
Edwards moved to this area because of the Lincoln Memorial University basketball program and it was there he met his wife, Patricia, and settled down. He began is coaching career at Middlesboro as an assistant in the late 80’s. He went to Pineville Schools from 1996 to 2003 where he coached girls basketball and softball. He’s been back with Middlesboro Schools since 2004 where he has coached middle school football and basketball.
“This is my home now, this is where I live,” he said. “I think we’ve got some talent here with our girls and we’ll have the opportunity to win some games. We’ve just got to roll up our sleeves and work hard and get after it.”
Life could be tough at first in the 52nd District. Bell County has the state’s top player in Maci Morris and will be the regional favorites. Harlan is coming off an appearance in the regional championship game with a young core of players and Harlan County has added MHS transfer Blair Green to a team that has a history of postseason success.
“The district is very loaded with Harlan, Harlan County and Bell County. Those three teams could all be ranked in the state and they all have nice players, but anything can happen on a given night,” Edwards said. “Maybe we can sneak up and catch one of them not looking and hopefully improve and make some noise in the district.”
He’s hoping to run an up-tempo style of play, but wants to make sure that’s the best fit for his players.
“I’ll have to see what I have first, but I’d like to play a style of press offense with a man defense that really gets after people and runs up and down the court. We’ll see what the girls can do and what we feel comfortable running,” Edwards said.
The new coach added that he appreciates the opportunity to be a head coach at MHS.
“I’d like to thank Mr. Martin, Mr. Bennett and the school board for giving me the opportunity to work with this group of young ladies.”