Blue Ridge coach celebrates 200th game with win over Highlands

Blue Ridge Middle School girls basketball team’s win against Highlands on Monday carried special significance for Blue Ridge Head Coach James O’Berry and his wife, Robin. They coached their 200th game with a final score of 37-16.

The O’Berrys have coached Blue Ridge Middle School basketball for 15 years in total, they were not all consecutive years.

“I started doing it because I felt like the girls needed some help,” said James. “I feel women’s sports sometimes get shortchanged. So, we were willing to put in the time and effort, and the girls did too, and we got lucky over the years.”

Blue Ridge Middle School basketball Head Coach James O’Berry talking to his players on Monday against Highlands. Blue Ridge won 37-16.

The O’Berrys have coached multiple generations of families throughout their career, beginning with coaching their own daughter and then moving on to coach their granddaughter. They also coached Chris Sherrill’s daughter and granddaughter who said she could not ask for a better role model.

“He coached my daughter for about four years, and he taught her the game, sportsmanship, teamwork, and self-confidence,” said Sherrill. “And he’s doing the same for my granddaughter.”

Andrea Stewart had the O’Berrys for a coach as a student at Blue Ridge School and they are now coaching her daughter.

“I remember the running, I hated running,” said Stewart. “I love that he’s coaching my daughter now, he’s the best coach for her to learn from. Not just the game but having a good attitude in general.”

Highlands Anna Stiehler (#15) and Blue Ridge Gabby Martinez go for a rebound on Monday playing at Blue Ridge.

After winning Monday’s game, O’Berry said it’s like when former NASCAR driver Richard Petty was asked what’s next after winning 100 races, “win 200.”

“As long as we’re physically and mentally able, and think we’re needed, we’re going to keep doing it,” said James.

He added that his strategy has remained simple over the years.

“Hit free throws, layups, move the ball and you will win the game,” he said. “Fundamentals win games.”

O’Berry added that he calculated all of the hours he’s spent on the team bus and it’s enough miles to travel to San Diego, Calif. and back to the east coast.

“Sometimes it seems like a long time, and other times it flies by, but we love it,” he said.

Blue Ridge Macy Heltsley takes the shot against Highlands on Monday.

Highlands Ashlynn Wilson drives to the hoop on Monday against Blue Ridge.

Blue Ridge Gabby Martinez dives for the ball on Monday against Highlands. She saved the ball and got it back in play but it was just outside of her teammate’s hands.

Highlands Emily Briggs takes the ball coast to coast and shoots the layup against Blue Ridge.

Blue Ridge Mahalah Stewart takes a jump shot at the top of the key against Highlands.

Highlands Aislynn Luck shoots the field goal against Blue Ridge on Monday.

Article and photos by Brian O’Shea
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