Published with permission
By MARK S. MOSES, Editor
The Robeson Journal
RED SPRINGS–The gymnasium at Red Springs High School is called the Raymond M. Ammons Gymnasium.
The basketball court there, however, now has a name and it’s the called Eva Patterson-Heath Court.
School, county and state officials, former players and citizens of Red Springs packed one side of the gymnasium during scrimmages of the girls and boys basketball teams at Red Springs High to help in honoring one of their own and legendary and former girls’ basketball coach at RSHS, Eva Patterson-Heath, by dedicating the hardwood court in her name.
“This is a very humbling experience and this is here forever,” said a smiling Eva Patterson-Heath.
Sections of the high school are named after teachers and administrators.
“To join Ms. McKoy, Raymond Ammoms, Ms. Martin, as part of a namesake here, is truly unbelievable. I’m just truly, truly honored and blessed to be able to have this honor, this recognition.”
The court has seen many games, including Patterson-Heath’s 500th win in her high school coaching career. The feat took place on February 17, 2009, in her last season of high school coaching before moving on to Fayetteville State University where she is now head coach of the Lady Broncos.
During her 24 seasons as head coach of the Lady Red Devils (503-128), she led her girls’ team to 17 conference titles, 11 conference tournament championships, appeared in 23 State playoffs and played in state championship games twice in Chapel Hill, once in 1999 and then in 2003.
Seven of her players have been selected for the East-West All-Star Game. In addition, Coach Patterson-Heath has also won ten cross country championships and in 2009 and won a Robeson County Girls Christmas Classic. She was inducted as part of the inaugural class into the Robeson County Sports Hall of Fame; inducted in 2012 into the North Carolina A&T Sports Hall of Fame, where she was a student-athlete there; and in 2006, she was chosen as the North Carolina High School Athletic Association’s Female Coach of the Year.
She has developed 21 collegiate student-athletes including her daughter Rekha Patterson, who is now head women’s basketball coach of the Redhawks at Southeast Missouri State, a NCAA Division I school, in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. She was on hand for the dedication.
“This means that she is a good person and she thinks about others first,” said Rekha Patterson. “She works really, really hard to be her best for her players. And that’s just not for her players, but there are a lot of people in this gym today whose lives she has impacted. I think it is an honor to be one of those people.”
Former players gathered around Patterson-Heath as she spoke to the crowd including Katasha Oxendine who played on the coach’s 1999 state runner-up Lady Red Devils team.
“It is an honor to be a part of this dedication,” said Ms. Oxendine.
Others spoke on Patterson-Heath’s behalf as well that included State House of Representative Garland Pierce with recognition of achievement and a proclamation by town council member Murray McKeithan.
“This is just a great accomplishment and I was just delighted to be here to share it with her and her family and to say to these young people that there’s nothing hard that can’t be accomplished,” said Rep. Pierce. “Coming from a small town like Red Springs, certainly in North Carolina, to amass over 500 wins because that’s a great thing. She’s now at Fayetteville State doing great things so her legacy is continuing to grow each place she stops. I know she’s excited about it. The most important thing I saw today was all those ladies she coached standing behind her and she could look back and see that they were all happy to be in her presence. To see the lives she influenced, not only in basketball, but academically, also. At the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about that they were successful not only on the hardwood, but also successful in life.”
The dedication ceremony was emceed by her cousin and head Red Devils boys’ basketball coach Glenn Patterson and closed out by RSHS Principal Larry Brooks.
“We, the Red Springs High School faculty, staff and students dedicate the basketball court in honor of Coach Eva Patterson-Heath,” said Principal Brooks. “We dedicate this court to a woman who has had an enormous impact on many student athletes. She has spent her time, talent and support in making the Red Springs (High School) girls’ basketball program one of the top programs in the State (of North Carolina) during her tenure.”