Having had the pleasure to cover Husky Basketball for the past three seasons, I feel like it was only fitting to extend my own congratulations to Marc Payne on an outstanding coaching career. It has been a real treat to watch his teams play hard and give it their all game in and game out.
I wasn’t sure what all needed to be said, so I did what any good reporter would do. I turned to current and former players that had played for Coach Payne, and got some outstanding comments that said things much better than I ever could.
Since it is always hard to keep up with former players, especially those that you never really got to know personally, I was only able to talk to four players out of the hundreds that were all part of the Huskies, Pioneers, and Beaver Creek basketball programs that were led by Coach Payne. Daniel Waln, Tatum Lemly, Anderson Moore, and Sam Gammons all came forward and told me just how much Coach Payne meant to them. Gammons did this by writing his own story, also included in this edition of the Jefferson Post. The other three took time out of their busy schedules to speak with me and help me write this story.
Waln, who was a point guard under Payne, and is now an assistant coach on the Husky team, understood just how much the coach cared for every player on the team.
“Coach Payne taught us not only did we have to play hard and be the best we could on the court, but we also had to work hard in the classroom and be great citizens in the community,” said Waln. “There are so many things that coach told me that I will always take with me and remember during my lifetime. He helped us all become better men.
Waln also spoke about how much of an honor it was to not only play for Coach Payne, but to also get to be work with him as an assistant coach last season.
Lemly was a teammate to Waln, and had one distinct memory to share that has stuck with him long after his high school playing days.
During a game against North Surry in his sophomore year, Lemly said that he did not get to play as much as he had hoped, and ended up just sitting on the bench hoping the game would hurry up and end. Ashe ended up losing, and the coach gave a post-game speech to the team, questioning whether some of the younger players cared more about themselves or cared more about the team.
“Those words stuck with me throughout the rest of my basketball career, and I still try and apply them today,” said Lemly. “Coach had a way of turning every situation into a teaching moment, sometimes those moments were bigger than basketball.”
The final person I had the pleasure of speaking with this weekend was Anderson Moore, who will be a key part to this year’s Ashe County team.
“He (Payne) has influenced and helped so many athletes as a coach, and I am honored to have had the privilege to play for him,” said Moore. “He taught us more than just basketball. He taught us about life and cared about us as individuals.”
Moore is ready for this season to start, and knows the program will remain successful.
“Coach made sure that he left the team in good hands to insure the program would continue to be successful in the future,” added Moore. “We are less than a month away from our first game, Coach Grubb will have us prepared to play.”
Thank you, Coach Payne, for all the great memories and making us all proud of the teams you have coached, both in the way they played on the court and the way they handled themselves in the community.