The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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June 15, 2011

Justice named boys basketball coach at Greenbrier East

BECKLEY — Jim Justice is a man who is not afraid to take on a challenge.

Or a grueling schedule.

At Tuesday’s Greenbrier County Board of Education meeting, Justice was named coach of the Greenbrier East boys basketball team. He will also remain coach of the girls basketball program, which he has coached to five state tournament berths since 2003.

“A lot of people ask me why,” Justice said. “I really believe that it is easy if you love kids and you love the game. And I love kids, and I love the game.”

Justice, nationally known as owner of The Greenbrier resort in White Sulphur Springs, is known locally as a man with a passion for basketball.

This year, the Greenbrier East girls finished 21-5 and advanced to the state tournament.

Justice has coached at every level of basketball, from elementary at Hollywood Elementary to semi-pro with the West Virginia Blazers.

He has an overall record of 799-159 as a coach.

Several people spoke out in favor of Justice getting the job, including former Greenbrier East, Virginia Tech and NBA standout Bimbo Coles.

 “I think Jim is the right person for that job. And if he is the head coach, I want a seat beside him on the bench,” Coles said. “His passion for basketball is like my passion for basketball.”

 “I think (players) will receive a spectacular experience under coach Justice,” Delegate Tom Campbell, D-Greenbrier, said.

 “It’s a chance for (Justice) to do for the boys’ program what he’s done for the girls’ program,” said Kevin Workman, owner of Greenbrier Valley Physical Therapy and Fitness and volunteer with Greenbrier County athletics.

Justice will be the only coach in the state, at the Class AAA level, coaching both the boys’ and the girls’ teams.

“I can do that because I have the time,” Justice said. “The Greenbrier is now up and running as it should. If it had been last year, it would have been difficult to do. There are three things I know that I can do, and that’s shoot a shotgun, make a deal and coach basketball. I’m excited about it.”

Justice, who has coached the girls’ team the last two days under the SSAC’s three-week summer practice window, said he will start with the boys’ Wednesday.

“Obviously, there are some differences in the two games,” Justice said of coaching both teams. “In the boys game, they play a lot of man, and you have to run a bunch of motion offenses. We’ll get that all in. I’m looking forward to it.”

In 11 years as girls coach, Justice’s teams have never failed to play a complete 22-game schedule.

Perhaps one of Justice’s players from the girls’ program, recent grad Kayla Whited, 18, summed it up best.

“I’ll never forget the values he taught me in addition to the game of basketball,” Whited said. “All I can say is there are a lot of boys at the school who tell me they are praying to God that Jim Justice is our coach.

 “There’s no one better — more qualified — than Jim Justice. If you don’t know that, then you’re crazy.”

“Now we go to work,” Justice said. “We’re going to do great things for the boys’ program, and we are going to continue to do great things for the girls’ program.”

— Register-Herald

reporter Tina Alvey

contributed to this story

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