Polsgrove named Avery Vikings varsity boys head basketball coach
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When asked why he decided to leave LMC to pursue the opening at Avery, Polsgrove cited family considerations.
"This was a family decision. We love this area and this will allow us to stay here for a very long time," Polsgrove said in an exclusive interview with The AJT during a break at last weekend's Bulldog Bash football event. "I hope I can have an impact. That's really why I coach, because of the coaches I have played for and the impact they have had on my life, including my dad."
Polsgove admitted it was difficult calling his current Bobcats players and recruits, as well as LMC Director of Athletics Craig McPhail to inform them of his decision to move on.
"To leave my team was really, really hard. I have made a lot of tough phone calls. We've worked hard for six years to build a program and we have finally gotten some guys to stay together. This coming year I fully expect them to have a great season," Polsgrove added. "With the number of returning players and experience they have, as well as the quality of players on the team, I believe the program is in really good shape. I'm excited for them and a little disappointed that I won't be able to experience next year with them because of the amount of time I have invested in those guys and the program, but I know they'll be successful.
"Speaking to Craig was difficult because I have so much respect for him, and I know how hard he's worked. He will continue to do a great job there and we will continue to be friends for a long time."
Polsgrove's 2011-12 Bobcats squad finished with the school's best record as a member of Conference Carolinas with an 8-8 mark in league play and the school's second berth in the conference tournament during Polsgrove's tenure. Prior to his time in Banner Elk, Polsgrove served for 14 years as head coach at King College in Bristol, Tenn., as well as a stint as the school's director of athletics.
While at King, Polsgrove earned back-to-back Tennessee-Virginia Athletic Conference Coach of the Year honors in 1996-97 and 1997-98. King earned two conference championship game appearances under Polsgrove, winning the TVAC title in 1997-98 and earning a trip to the NAIA National Tournament. King also finished runner-up in 2003-04 as part of the Appalachian Conference, qualifying for the NAIA Tournament for the second time in his tenure.
During his playing career with NAIA powerhouse Taylor University in Indiana, Polsgrove was part of three district championship teams and helped guide his teams to three NAIA National Tournaments while earning a bachelor's degree in business in 1987.
Polsgrove is excited to work with student-athletes at the high school level, and looks forward to the challenge of working to turn around an Avery boys basketball program that has made only one state playoff appearance since the 2006-07 season.
"I'm really looking forward to the challenge. It will be a little different for me, but at the same time basketball is basketball, and I'm looking forward to working with these young men and the challenge of putting a team together and seeing what we can accomplish together," Polsgrove said. "It's a lot of fun and we're going to work really hard at it."
In addition to working with the basketball team, Polsgrove will be involved in teaching through the health education program for Avery County Schools. Although he taught for periods of time in the classroom during his collegiate coaching career, Polgrove is excited about working with not only basketball players, but the student population in general.
"Teaching will be a little different, but it isn't anything that I haven't already done," Polsgrove explained. "Teaching will allow me to get to know both my players and the general student population. One thing I enjoyed in college was that teaching gave me the opportunity to get to know kids on campus that otherwise I wouldn't get to know."
Avery High School Director of Athletics Jay Smith was overjoyed to find the caliber of individual and coach to fill the Viking basketball coaching vacancy that he encountered with Polsgrove.
"We're super excited about having Scott join us. It was amazing that we were able to find a coach with more than 20 years of coaching experience at the college level and has experienced success at multiple places," Smith said. "Lees-McRae has improved during Scott's tenure there and he ran a very successful program at King College before that. He's someone with maturity and has been through the battles, which I feel is what we need. He also provides perspective as a coach that is not originally from Avery County and is a high-caliber person of character."
The process of hiring a coach extended a period of several months, and Smith explained that Polsgrove was the candidate that fits the profile of someone who is not only interested in a coaching position, but someone wanting to invest in the community and cultivate long-term family roots in the High Country.
"A difficulty in the process was finding someone who was willing to buy into the way of life in Avery County. The slower pace of the community didn't appeal to some candidates. The Polsgroves have been established here several years and are people of integrity looking to do what's right for our kids. Coach Polsgrove has proven that throughout his career," Smith said.