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Apple for the teacher

December 13, 1998|By DAN SPEARS

Apple for the teacher

Spartans' Hall gets 400 wins with the right lesson plan

It's a good thing McConnellsburg girls basketball coach Audrey Hall isn't looking for another job anytime soon.

Because even though she's technically held only one job over the last 26 years, her descriptions of it would fill all the boxes under "prior experience" on two applications.

In 15 minutes, she describes herself as all of the following: wife, teacher, coach, friend, house mother, florist, economist, guidance counselor and alumni relations manager.

[cont. from sports page]

And when the number "400" is brought up, no one will ever be sure if it's the number of wins she had after Tuesday night's game against Northern Bedford or the number of lives that had been affected along the way.

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"I teach," Hall said before win No. 401 at Waynesboro on Thursday night. "And it's great just to see these kids grow and see what athletics can do for you."

What athletics do for Hall is let her think back and smile. Hall can rattle off the specifics of games and former players like the ingredients of an old family recipe:

* A healthy slice of inspiration from Dot Doyle, her assistant in 1991 when the Spartans won the state title.

* Throw in heartache from the loss in the 1990 Western final, a loss that Hall says propelled the '91 team to the gold medal.

* Some Jody Pebble - the team's first 1,000-point scorer - into the mix.

* Bits of direction and patience from her husband, Bill, her children, Rod and Mindy, and her parents, Galen and Bernice Kling.

* A little Tina Gress and Dinah Chamberlain, who have assisted in the junior high program.

* And a pinch of Debra Welsh, who was an assistant and is now the team's trainer, to finish.

"This is a mixture of teaching, coaching and family. ... And in athletics, you just need quality people," Hall said.

She's found them in McConnellsburg, a place where she's introduced as the coach, but known as the teacher.

"I hope I'm promoting values that they'll develop outside the school when they graduate," Hall said. "Self-esteem, physical fitness, being able to accept their limitations yet always giving their all."

But as much as she wants those values to be promoted off the court, they've worked on it as well.

"She (Doyle), along with many others, I know basketball changed their lives," Hall said. "And those two (the team's managers this year) have been turnarounds. They work practice, ... know how to do scouting reports now.

"Athletics have turned them around."

There's never been much of a turnaround needed in Hall's program, simply because in this small town, everyone has grown up together knowing what Hall's "Lady Spartan traditions" mean.

"They have a bonding coming in," Hall said. "They know what each other's problems are and they can deal with it before they come into the gym and we can get the most out of our practices or games. They know when somebody's slipping, and then the peer pressure is great.

"They're a big sorority, you might say."

And as the loving house mother, she always hears back from the ones she's taken care of over the years.

"There are friendships with most of these kids that are still going," Hall said. "They'll be back for Thanksgiving break, or Christmas break, or whenever. Unless they totally move away, I'll see them."

In return, they get to see the fruits of their labors for Hall.

"I came down from class with my flowers from Forbes Road (High School) the other day and I see some of the assistants," Hall said. "And I say to them, 'How many of these did you help me get?'"

They've given her 401 wins so far. And as a coach, a friend and a teacher, she hopes they had a great time getting her - and themselves - to this point.

"Basketball teaches them to budget their time and make the most of it," Hall said. "And that's something you can't teach in the classroom."

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