That’s how many games Eva Patterson-Heath won during her 13-year career as the head coach of the Red Springs High School girls basketball team.
Patterson-Heath was honored with that number last Friday at Red Springs High. Following the Red Springs girls’ loss to St. Pauls, Red Springs athletic director and head football coach George Coltharp granted Patterson-Heath with a Red Springs jersey donning the number 503.
Patterson-Heath was warmly embraced with a standing ovation in the packed Red Springs gymnasium.
“It was a great honor to be recognized in that manner,” said Patterson-Heath who held a winning rate of 78 percent (503-128 record) while at Red Springs. “It just speaks to all the work I did, as well as the people that worked for me and the coaching staff and the players who were committed to winning and being successful.”
Patterson-Heath, who graduated from Red Springs High in 1973, was joined by some 30 former players and family members at center court as she was presented with her honorary retired jersey and plaque.
“Basketball mirrors life and I look at the young ladies out there today — and that’s just a fraction of those that I encountered here — and they are all successful women, and that’s beautiful,” Patterson-Heath said.
One such former player joining the longtime Red Springs coach at center court was Katasha Oxendine who played under Patterson-Heath from 1996-99. The Lady Red Devils were runner ups at state during Oxendine’s senior season.
“I’m glad that everybody that could was able to come back to support her,” said Oxendine, who too has coached the Red Springs girls basketball team (2010 and 2011). “She’s done a lot for the community and the schools. She’s a role model to many people — not just athletes, but students as well.”
During her tenure with the Lady Red Devils, Patterson-Heath won 17 conference titles, 11 conference tournament championships and made 23 state playoff appearances, including two state championship games. Additionally, she has developed 21 collegiate student-athletes and coached three Robeson County Players of the Year and one Cape Fear Region Player of the Year.
In 2009, Patterson-Heath was inducted into Robeson County’s inaugural Sports Hall of Fame, and in 2006 she was chosen as the North Carolina High School Athletic Association's Female Coach of the Year.
Patterson-Heath is currently in her fourth season as the head coach of the Fayetteville State women’s basketball team. The Lady Broncos are off to their best start under the Red Springs native, holding a 14-2 overall record and a 6-0 Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association mark. On Monday she was named the CIAA “Coach of the Week” after FSU went 3-0 last week.