First Posted: 7/9/2009
RED SPRINGS Ronnie Chavis has been around Robeson County athletics for a long time.
The county’s athletics director has seen a great number of coaches come and go from the area’s six high schools.
None, however, with the pedigree for winning and legacy cast by former Red Springs girls’ basketball coach Eva Patterson-Heath.
Patterson-Heath was introduced as the women’s basketball coach at Fayetteville State on Wednesday.
“First and foremost the main thing in her was to enhance and bring to light girls’ basketball,” Chavis said. “When I first became county athletics director there were only two schools competent in girls’ basketball and she got a lot of folks to get interested in the sport. It was like in the ACC, when they first got football, only a handful of teams were good and they would pummel everyone else. So the other teams had to raise there game to another level. Thats what Eva has done to the county in terms of girls’ basketball.”
Said John Haskins, head women’s basketball coach at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke: “It’s a great opportunity for Eva. She’s done an outstanding job for years and years over there at Red Springs. Her teams were always organized and she’s had a lot of success. She really worked it and worked with those girls and helped them get better. I’m sure she’ll do an outstanding job.”
Danny Graham, who has coached with and against Patterson-Heath since becoming Lumberton’s head coach, said he was happy for the Broncos’ new coach.
“I think it’s great for our county,” he said. “I think that’s it really great for her career. It just shows you that a high school coach can go on to the next level. I think it’s really good and congratulations to her and her career.”
Haskins said Patterson-Heath helped grow the Braves’ program.
“One of the reasons we got the team camp going on over here, was because she called me and told me they didn’t have a place to play during the summer,” Haskins said. “It’ll be a big loss for area basketball, not just Red Springs basketball.”
In addition to the high school and collegiate programs in the county, Patterson-Heath helped build another athletic entity.
“Eva and her husband are sort of like the parents of Angel Elite,” said Abdul Ghaffar, coordinator of Angel Elite sports. “They started the program that morphed into Angel Elite. Every year, up until this year, Eva has coached a team for us. We wouldn’t be where we are without her. The things that we’ve been able to do with all aspects of our program, have come from and with her support.”
Though Ghaffar says he’ll miss Patterson-Heath, he is excited about the opportunities for Robeson County athletes her new position yields.
“I’m not going to say we’re going to miss her, because on the flip side now we’re going to have a college coach who is an insider,” he said. “We’re trying to get our kids to college and now we have someone who will look at our girls. It’s bittersweet, but it’s going to benefit our kids as well.”
“I think basketball will go on,” he said. “We still have a lot of good coaches in the county, but I think it will help our girls get a better look in recruiting. Some of our girls will try and look at Fayetteville State. Girls in Robeson County will probably get a better look because she is a college coach.”
Chavis, who helped start the girls’ version of the Robeson County Shoot-out with Patterson-Heath, expects her to do well in Fayetteville.
“She deserved a state title,” Chavis said. “She was there several times, but that just didnt work out. But, if you get to the state championship game, youre pretty much a champion already, because people dont get there very often. I wish she wouldve gotten one, because she really deserved it. But, I couldnt be more proud of her and I know shes going to be great at Fayetteville State.”