By: PAMELA SCOTT JOHNSON Staff Writer
March 29, 2013
Former Williamson High School basketball coach Curt Fletcher is one of five current and former coaches who grew up in the Chattaroy area to has won state high school basketball championships.
“I think Chattaroy Hollow is the basketball capitol of West Virginia,” Fletcher said.
“There have been five coaches that have won state titles from that little stretch of road,” Fletcher said recently when reminiscing. “When you think about it, that is pretty amazing.”
Fletcher, who played at Chattaroy Junior High and later became the head coach there, won the Class A title for Williamson High School in 2001. He has also been an assistant to David Hatfield for three Class AA titles back in the later 1980s.
The other four Chattaroy products to win state titles as head coaches are the late George Ritchie, Jeff Jackson, Frankie Smith and Garland “Rabbit” Thompson.
Ritchie actually played for the old Chattaroy High School Yellowjackets and helped lead that team to the state Class B finals back in 1955. They finished as runner-up. After heading to Wake Forest for a stellar college career, Ritchie came back home and coached at Williamson High School. He won the Class AA state title back in 1964 and the next year the Wolfpack moved up to Class AAA. His team was undefeated, but was upset in the final game against Beckley. He went on to coach several more years for WHS.
Jackson, who went to the old Chattaroy Junior High School, won a Sweet 16 state title in Kentucky back in 1992. He also won a couple of All “A” titles when Kentucky started those mid-season tournaments as an alternative for the state championship, which puts all schools together, regardless of classification and enrollment.
Garland “Rabbit” Thompson was an assistant to Jackson. They grew up as friends on Chattaroy Hollow. So Rabbit was a part of those titles. He then moved back to Williamson and helped Fletcher coach the Wolfpack to a Class A state title back in 2001.
More recently, Thompson has won back-to-back state championships at Tug Valley. He guided the Panthers to the AA title last year. They had to drop down to Class A this year due to a drop in enrollment. He just won the Class A title in Charleston a few days ago as head coach at TVHS.
Smith won the Class AA title back in 1999. He grew up a gym rat in Chattaroy, having access to the old gym, because his father Frank, Sr. was a longtime Buddy League and AAU coach. Smith then went on to a stint in college as an assistant at Miami (Ohio) and then as a head coach at Saginaw Valley State University in Michigan. He is back in high school as the head coach at Sheldon Clark in Martin County, Ky.
(Kyle Lovern is the sports editor for the Williamson Daily News. Comments or story ideas can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com)