Notebook: Greenbrier East girls get taste of PGA event
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS - Playing for the Greenbrier East girls basketball team these days comes with privileges.
It means hanging out in the VIP box overlooking the No. 18 hole of the Old White, and it means meeting and having lunch alongside Gov. Joe Manchin and Jerry West, as well as Arnold Palmer, Bill Stewart, Frank Beamer, Da'Sean Butler and John Daly.
Autographs are available, too.
"I got autographs from all of them. They were really nice,'' said Brittany Parker, a senior on the Greenbrier East team.
In return for such privileges, the Greenbrier East basketball players worked the 18th green at the Greenbrier Classic this week, wearing their Spartan jerseys and raising the "Quiet please'' signs whenever a PGA professional addressed a putt.
It's been a fun week and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Parker, Gaby Dugan, Kayla Whited, Cassie Ford, Taylor Dowdy, Amanda and Erica McGuire and Chaunte McDowell, all of whom will be returning to school soon and playing another season for the Spartans this winter.
It helps that the girls play for coach Jim Justice, who moonlights as The Greenbrier owner and who orchestrated the inaugural Greenbrier Classic, the greatest sporting event ever on West Virginia soil, making him the most economically viable high school basketball coach in the nation.
But when he's not negotiating million-dollar Greenbrier deals, signing PGA Tour contracts and hiring hundreds of new Greenbrier employees, he's diagramming pick-and-rolls and making fun of Parker's sunglasses.
"He jokes around all the time except in the games,'' said Parker. "He's always cracking jokes about everyone.''
But he teaches more than basketball, said Dugan, a senior point guard who averaged six assists and five points on last year's 16-7 team.
"He starts out with a life lesson,'' said Dugan. "He calls it storytime, and then we go into basketball.''
Of course, mingling with Jerry West at the Old White is old hat for the Spartan girls.
As a longtime friend of Justice's, West makes an occasional appearance at Greenbrier East basketball practices and, in light of his extensive basketball background, tries to pass along some hoops wisdom.
"He's really nice,'' said Parker. "He tells us we're working hard and we have the best coach in the world and he gives us pointers.''
"Everybody was supposed to have a badge and a ticket to come to the concert,'' said Justice. "Well, all of a sudden, we've got 20,000 people that show up at the concert and are trying to buy tickets. We've got another 40,000 people that got badges and everything. We didn't expect that.''
The crowd for Sunday's final round was 41,800.