By TOM BONE
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
The girls from Montcalm High School's past played for the girls in the future.
With a reported $1,000-plus raised for the school's athletics program, the winners of last Saturday's alumni basketball game at the MHS gym were not only the members of “Team Brady,” but those who will wear the uniform of the small Mercer County high school in years to come.
Steve Brady, who led the Lady Generals to their only state girls basketball championship in 1980, coached the team that won 37-34 over “Team Havens,” led by his successor at MHS, Craig Havens. Havens, now assistant principal at Montcalm, earned more than 200 wins in his 11 seasons from 1984 to 1994.
When Brady was told that an alumni game was being organized by former players Michelle Poore Steele and Laura Howard Anderson, he said he was excited but he had some doubt about how many people would show up. As game time approached, he was very pleasantly surprised.
“It was just fantastic,” said Brady, now an assistant principal at Princeton Middle School. “It was a great turnout. Both sides of the gym were packed. … That says a lot about Montcalm fans, and parents and grandparents.”
Steele, in an email, reported that the game was “a huge huge success. We think 300-500 people attended. … People came out in droves for this event.” She reported that the game “raised over $1000 for the athletic program.”
Brady added, “The girls had fun. It was a great time to be back at Montcalm.”
His team had two alumni back from the 1980 championship team, Angie Overbaugh and Robin Baughman. The rest of the team played during their high school days for Jimmy McPherson, who has coached the team since 1994.
“Angie Overbaugh looked like she hadn't lost a step since she played,” Brady said.
After their respective stints as coaches of the Montcalm High girls teams, Brady and Havens coached against each other in boys basketball games. Brady ran the boys program at Pocahontas (Va.) High School while Havens continued his job as Montcalm boys coach.
Asked about those days, Brady said, “We battled and we coached together a lot over the years. We're best friends.”
Their natural competitive instincts resurfaced last weekend.
“We got excited a few times during the game,” he said. “A little of the 'Coach Havens' and 'Coach Brady' came back.”
“I thought they (Team Havens) were going to come back on us,” Brady said. With a hearty laugh, he said about the outcome, “I outcoached him, really.”
He said the girls from both teams enjoyed talking with each other “before the game, during the game and after the game. Once the game was over, everybody wanted to stay around, and talk, and mingle.”
He was pleased to help raise money for the girls athletics program, he said. Funding sports at a school like Montcalm, primarily from ticket revenue, is difficult.
“It gets hard, with these two (basketball) seasons together,” he said. “Sometimes people don't get out to see both games through the whole season. … There's not a whole lot (of revenue) that goes into that athletic program.”
But at the same time, there are set expenses for things like hiring officials, buying equipment and traveling to away games.
That made the alumni game fundraiser even more important to him.
“Anything we can do to help that school and that athletic program, I'll do it, and I think anybody would do it,” he said.
— Contact Tom Bone at firstname.lastname@example.org