In 2011, Jackson County was beaming that it had the West Virginia High School Player of the Year for boys' basketball.
Ripley High's Chase Fischer captured the prestigious honor – known as the Bill Evans Award. Fischer is now getting set to embark on his second season with the men's basketball program at Wake Forest University.
Did you know that a one-time West Virginia Player of the Year in girls' basketball has called Jackson County home for the past year?
Many in the county are quite familiar with Missy Spangler, who has been serving as the Program Manager for the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce since last summer.
Ten years prior to coming to Jackson County and going to work for the Chamber, Spangler garnered the honor as the Mountain State's top girls' basketball player (now known as the Mary Ostrowski Award). Spangler starred on the court for Ritchie County High School.
Spangler grew up on the outskirts of Pennsboro. Ritchie County is a consolidation of the old Pennsboro High School (home of the Cardinals) and Harrisville High School (home of the Gators).
As a senior in the season of 2000-01, Spangler averaged 26.7 points, 11.8 rebounds, 7.7 assists and 7.8 steals per game while playing under the guidance of her father, Terry. “I wouldn't change it for the world,” she said of having a father/head coach as the same person. “It was good for me.”
Her father was a great athlete at Sherman High School and actually played his next-to-last game of his high school football career at Ripley's Memorial Stadium.
An outstanding quarterback, Terry Spangler led the Tide to a 40-0 rout of Doddridge County in a Class AA semifinal playoff game staged on the Saturday afternoon of November 22, 1975. He completed nine passes for 142 yards, including a 38-yard TD strike.
He also completed a pass for a two-point conversion in the easy win over the Bulldogs.
The Tide would fall the following week to Ceredo-Kenova, 18-6, for the AA state championship at Huntington's Fairfield Stadium.
Missy Spangler says she's heard a lot about those days when her father starred in three sports for the Boone County school. She finds it ironic that one of the biggest games of his football career occurred in an area where she now lives and works.
After high school, Terry Spangler went to WVU on a football scholarship but later transferred to Glenville State College and enjoyed great success as both a football and baseball player for the Pioneers.
Missy Spangler, who is the middle of three girls, says her father's talent and skills were no doubt handed down. “I think so, but my mom tells us she was the outdoors type,” Spangler said laughing. Her mother was a majorette at old Cairo High School, which closed several years ago with students in the area heading to Harrisville.
Page 2 of 2 - “My mom is from Ritchie County, so that's how we ended up there,” she said.
Jackson County reminds Spangler of her roots. “It's been good,” she said. “It's a lot larger than Ritchie County, but it's small-town enough.”
After high school, Spangler earned a basketball scholarship to Robert Morris near Pittsburgh. She earned All-Rookie honors in the Northeast Conference during the 2001-02 season. She led the league's freshmen in scoring by averaging 13.1 points per game.
She also averaged 5.6 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.9 steals per game during her first season of college ball. She played basketball for three seasons before moving to cross country.
She graduated from Robert Morris with a bachelor's degree in business administration, specializing in marketing. She also had a minor in entrepreneurship.
It was then off to West Virginia Wesleyan College in Buckhannon to get her MBA. While there, she used an extra year of college athletic eligibility to run cross country for the highly-successful Jesse Skiles.
Besides coaching basketball, Spangler's father also was a state championship cross country coach at Ritchie County.
After Wesleyan, Spangler moved to the Dayton, Ohio area and worked in the insurance business.
With six years under her belt in that line of work, she longed for something different. “The loyalties of West Virginians is something I missed,” she said. Plus, she hated being away from family and friends.
Her current job was the perfect fit, based not only on her business experience but also her educational background. A goal-oriented individual, one thing she is striving for is to raise the Chamber's membership. “We are at 83 right now, we were in the low 50s,” said Spangler.
Her days as an athlete help her deal with the challenges of the position.
In addition, Spangler's father continues to motivate her. Only now, it's in a much different way. Terry Spangler has suffered the past several years from Parkinson's Disease.
While his illness presents some trying times, Spangler says her father's strong-will from his days as an athlete and coach has helped the entire family stay the course.
Spangler feels blessed to be living and working in Jackson County. It's given her a new lease on life professionally and brought her closer to home and the family she so deeply loves.