Anne Long doesn’t resemble a coach that is in her fourth decade of coaching.
At Tuesday’s practice, the Spring Valley girls basketball coach had the energy of a first-year coach as she led her team from drill to drill in a workout resembling a college practice.
This is Long’s 41st season of coaching girls basketball in South Carolina. She is the second winningest coach in state history behind former Manning coach John Thames’ 869 victories.
Long, with a 835-197 record, has a chance to catch Thames. She has won seven state titles, with the most recent coming this past season.
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With seven seniors and a strong freshman class, there is a good chance Long and the Vikings can repeat as state champions. Spring Valley is 10-1 and ranked No. 2 in the latest South Carolina Basketball Coaches poll.
“I still love the game. I wouldn’t be doing it if I didn’t it,” Long said. “Did I anticipate being in it this long? No. … As long as I enjoy what I am doing and still enjoy being around the girls. The community supports us and the administration does and it is fun.”
Long says she gets asked a lot when she will retire and usually gives the same answer, “When I get old enough.”
Her players love the structure and discipline she demands on and off the court.
“She is a wonderful coach and helps us through a lot, and she knows how to teach us very well,” Spring Valley point guard Dominique Hill said.
“She makes sure you get after it. She isn’t going to let anything slide,” Spring Valley center Shantay Taylor said. “If you want to not really play hard, she will be hard. If you really want to win and work hard, then it is easy.”
Taylor, who is signed to play at Temple, and Christian Hithe, a Central Florida signee, are the latest of Long’s players to go on to play in college. She estimates around 100 or so players have played college basketball.
I still love the game. I wouldn’t be doing it if I didn’t it.
Anne Long, Spring Valley basketball coach
Long was a talented athlete at Newberry High, and she played basketball, softball and field hockey at Winthrop. She credits getting involved in sports from her mother, who won a state title at Silverstreet High and her two brothers.
“They had no mercy,” Long said of her brothers. “I had pictures of them putting football pads and a helmet on me and or a catcher’s mask to play basketball. If I wanted to play, that is what I did. It was fun.”
After college, Long landed her first job at Wilson High in Florence. She coached multiple sports including basketball where coached Pearl Moore, who went on to become the leading scorer in women’s college basketball history. Moore later joined Long on her staff Union and was part of two of the four state championships there.
Long went from Wilson to a one-season stint at Boiling Springs before returning to Union. She led the Yellow Jackets to four state titles in eight years, including back-to-back crowns twice.
“It was a great one-school town and a great situation,” Long said of Union. “I developed some great memories. The program hadn’t won a state title 30 years prior and we won four.”
Long returned to the Midlands and spent three seasons at Lower Richland before landing at Dutch Fork. She did not win a state title in her 16 seasons at Dutch Fork but made it to the championship three times.
Long thought about retiring in 2008 but couldn’t pass up the opportunity to coach at Spring Valley, which had a talented group of players including Asia Dozier, Brianna Robinson and Xylina McDaniel.
The Vikings won a state title in Long’s first season and then went undefeated to win the 2011 championship.
Long said winning state championships and building relationships throughout the years is what she takes the most pride in. She said she keeps in touch with many of her former players.
Long recalled having a challenging moment in a recent practice.
“I reminded them that players said in the past one of the best things to happen is winning the state championship. It is irreplaceable as far as memories. So I want to continue to build those memories,” she said.
“If that translates to developing character and good people that enjoy life and are good citizens, then it is more rewarding for me.”
Anne Long file
Career record: 835-197
Schools coached: Wilson, Boiling Springs, Union, Lower Richland, Dutch Fork, Spring Valley
State championships: 7 (Union, 1984-85, 1988-89), (Spring Valley, 2009, 2011, 2015)
Top players coached: Pearl Moore (Wilson), Asia Dozier (Spring Valley), Xylina McDaniel (Spring Valley), Marlene Jeter (Union), Elnora Dean (Union), Cierra Carter (Spring Valley), Savonia Bryan (Spring Valley), Sharlene Byrd (Wilson), Cassandra Bishop (Wilson)
Honors: S.C. Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame (2011) and S.C. Coaches Hall of Fame (2012). Head Coach in McDonald’s All-American Game (2012).