When the Apple Springs girls' basketball team plays Chester tonight, it won't be just another game. Lady Eagles head coach Danny Neal is one win away from 500. Neal says he has enjoyed the first 499."I knew I needed a few years away from it. And I didn't know if I wanted to coach again."
Claire Poirier, Apple Springs senior, says "He's just really enthusiastic about the game of basketball."
Neal claims he has just as much passion as he did in 1979. That year, he started his varsity coaching career and picked up his first win at Cushing. Twenty-seven years and 499 wins later, Neal is near a coaching milestone. "The numbers at that time didn't mean anything to me. I was just excited about coaching basketball."
But number 500 would be nice for Neal and his players. Poirier says, "It would be nice. I think wins are something that you reflect on after the season's over. Just reminds me of all the good kids that I've had to play basketball for me."
Most have moved away. One is now one of his assistant coaches, but each youngster is more important than any win. "They're like my own kids."
"We always tease him about being so old," said Poirier.
Just like a daughter.