By Jeremy Stafford -- firstname.lastname@example.org
WOODSTOCK -- When Mickey Clinedinst played basketball at Central under then-head coach Jerry Walters, he occasionally thought of one day coaching the Falcons himself.
Clinedinst has been an assistant coach at Central for a number of years, most recently to boys basketball coach Roger Wilkins, who stepped down in April.
Last week the Shenandoah County School Board approved Clinedinst as Central's new boys basketball coach, satisfying a longing more than 20 years in the making.
"I'm excited, I'm humbled," Clinedinst said. "I take a lot of pride in having an opportunity to coach at Central, which has a rich tradition, and I hope to continue that."
Clinedinst's hiring brings at least some semblance of continuity to a Falcons team that loses Aaron Heishman and Michael Marston, both first team all-Shenandoah District performers, to graduation. His hiring also puts a temporary halt to Central's revolving door of coaches, which has spun since Walters' retirement in 2005.
Walters coached at Central for 34 seasons and was immediately succeeded by his son, Jeff, who gave way to Wilkins in 2007.
Central ended its 2009-10 season, a 13-6 effort, in the Region B, Division 2 quarterfinals.
Clinedinst said he plans on being as consistent with last year's team as possible, making perhaps only a few tweaks to the defense. He is especially determined to retain four essential elements from Wilkins' teams: Strong leadership, class, hard work, and team chemistry.
"To have a successful team you have to develop that chemistry," Clinedinst said.
Following his promotion, Clinedinst received congratulations from Jerry Walters and Wilkins, the latter of whom was one of Clinedinst's teammates at Central.
After playing high school ball at Central, Clinedinst played at Ferrum Junior College for a year, then spent three years playing at Bridgewater College. He was an assistant to Jerry Walters and Wilkins on the Central boys team, and was an assistant to Wilkins on the Central girls team.
In all, Clinedinst has contributed more than 20 years to Central basketball as either a player or an assistant coach.
Better to stick with Clinedinst and his deep legacy, it seems, rather than hire someone unfamiliar with the history of the program.
"I think he'll do a very good job with the program," Jerry Walters said. "... He was very instrumental in the success of both [the boys and girls] programs.
"I'm just hoping he's as fortunate as I was that his assistants are as loyal to him as he was to me -- you can't buy that."