By Gene Stanley/Sports Correspondent
The 500-victory club among high school basketball coaches is rarified air in the state of Alabama.
On the Friday before Christmas (Dec. 21), Gaston High girls coach Tonya Bogle joined that club when her Bulldogs beat Robertsdale in a Christmas tournament.
Bogle was presented with a “500-win basketball” plaque last Tuesday (Jan. 8) between the girls and boys games against Sand Rock.
As one would expect of the self-effacing coach, Bogle pointed out that if not for great players, assistant coaches and parents, she wouldn’t have been able to pass the milestone.
“To me, it was just another win,” she said. “It’s a big accomplishment to get 500 wins, but on the other hand, there are a lot of coaches with that many, so it’s not that big of a deal.
“But I’m glad they’ve let me stay here long enough to win 500. In that way, it is special.”
The Gaston alumnus started coaching at Gaston in 1985 and became varsity coach the next year. After that, the rest is history.
There have been some great teams during her 26-plus year coaching career, including the 1988 Class 2A state championship team and the 1987 and 2002 state runner-up squads.
The Bulldogs have been to the Final 48 six times with Bogle on the bench and once with her as a player.
“The state championship is something I’ll always remember, of course,” she said. “And every time we’ve made the Final 48, it’s been special because you know how, in Northeast Alabama, we all beat each other up to make it to Jacksonville (home of the Northeast Regional), then to get out of Jacksonville (to the Final 48 in Birmingham).”
Bogle said that every season has at least one defining moment and special memory.
However, the 2011-12 season will stand out in her memory, as she became the first female in state history to coach a boys team. She pulled double duty last year and managed to coach both teams to the regional.
“I knew it was only temporary until they got a boys coach,” she said. “But it was exciting and a challenge. I truly enjoyed coaching the boys, too.”
Of all the memories, Bogle doesn’t remember her first game as a head coach.
“Somebody asked me that the other day and I really can’t remember it,” she said. “I guess I didn’t think too much about it back then because I didn’t foresee this kind of longevity or passing this kind of milestone. I’ll have to go look it up. I’ve got every single one of my scorebooks stored away.”