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Wednesday, September 18, 2013
Craig County is in the midst of large renovation project of its school facilities.
Cameron Shepherd and Randy Hale are a part of it.
Shepherd, a 24-year-old former William Byrd standout, has been hired as Craig’s new boys basketball coach; while Hale was put in charge of the girls basketball program after coaching the JV team for the last two years.
Shepherd takes over a Craig boys program that went 0-22 last year and has had just one winning season since 1989.
The Rockets lost 10 games by at least 40 points with five of those by 50 or more.
Nevertheless, Shepherd is optimistic about what he already has seen from some of his athletes in open gyms.
“Obviously they struggled last year,” Shepherd said. “But there’s a lot of potential there. A whole lot. I don’t think that’s out of the question at all. I really do think that something can be built at Craig. There’s potential here that nobody’s really seen.”
Marcus Phelps, who took over Craig’s program in 2012-13 after three years as an assistant, left the job after one year.
Shepherd, the JV coach at Byrd for the past two seasons, made his move.
“I got some advice from some people, asked what they thought and in the end made my own decision and decided to accept it,” Shepherd said. “It’s a beautiful place. There’s good people up there. I’ve enjoyed the experience so far.”
Shepherd will commute from Byrd, where he teaches special education, to New Castle for practices and games.
“It’s a challenge,” Craig athletic director Mark McPherson said. “To get someone the caliber that he is, we were willing to make a couple of concessions.”
Shepherd said his father, Billy, will be Craig’s JV coach. Former Craig athlete Brock Jones will be the varsity assistant.
Shepherd counts himself fortunate to have played for four years at Division III Randolph College in Lynchburg under head coach Clay Nunley.
“I would venture to say one of the best Division III coaches in the country,” Shepherd said. “I’m using a lot of the things that we did at Randolph, a lot of little things that I never thought would come into play. I’m finding myself saying things that he said to us. It really prepared me for this opportunity a lot.”
Hale is Craig County resident who works fulltime at Catawba Hospital.
He previously coached in the girls programs at Glenvar and Patrick Henry. Two of Hale’s daughters, Marilea and Erika, were standouts at Glenvar during the 1990s.
Marilea Hale and former Craig athlete Amelia Taylor will be the Rockets’ assistant coaches.
Randy Hale replaces Donald Eggleston, who coached the Rockets for five seasons.
Craig, which went 8-14 last year and lost to Covington in the Pioneer District semifinals, is participating in a fall league at Northside where some of the other teams include Salem, Floyd County, Lord Botetourt.
“It’s going to be a good experience for the girls over there,” Hale said. “Against those teams, they’re going to have to learn to play.”
McPherson said Craig is scheduled to install new hardwood playing floors in its main and auxiliary gyms next month. The Craig AD also said plans are in the works for a 5,000-square-foot field house on the school’s campus.
“Because we’re such a small school, we want to do everything we can to help our kids compete by giving them the best facilities,” McPherson said. “How it happens and when it happens, we’re not exactly sure yet, but we’re doing everything we can to make it happen as fast as we can.”
Liberty making plans
for athletic hall of fame
Liberty will be the latest Timesland high school to debut an athletic hall of fame as the Bedford County school plans to induct its inaugural class in January.
Liberty is accepting nominations through Oct. 28.
The inaugural class will be honored during a Jan. 10 luncheon at the Elks Home in Bedford. The honorees will be recognized Jan. 11 between the girls and boys basketball games against Staunton River.
Liberty boys basketball and softball coach Jeff Monroe said he came up with the idea for the hall of fame.
“I saw a few other schools doing it, and I knew Liberty had a pretty good tradition in sports,” Monroe said. “I ran it by my AD and my principal a couple years ago and this year we got the go-ahead to do it.”
Former Liberty athletes, coaches and significant contributors to the school’s athletic program are eligible. However, the first group of honorees must have played, coached or supported athletics during the first 20 years of the school (1964-84).
After the inaugural class is inducted, nominees from all years will be considered.
“You’ve got a lot of the younger guys that are still around, but we wanted to get some of the older people recognized first,” Monroe said. “This is the school’s [50th] anniversary year. That was a big part of it.”
Monroe is part of an 11-person selection committee that also includes principal Tim Overstreet, athletic director Lori Mattson, former principals Steve Boyer and Bob Worrell, former county supervisor Shirley McCabe, former AD Ricky Falls, former coaches Jim Cutler and Sheila Turpin, head football coach Chris Watts and county news reporter Mike Forster.
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