The term “living legend” often is overused, but in the case of former long-time Winthrop High girls basketball coach Ron Spinney, it is, if anything, an understatement.
Ron, who is being inducted into the Massachusetts Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame, guided the WHS girls’ program from its infancy in the 1970s, an era when women’s athletics at the college and high school levels were beginning to blossom thanks to the advent of Title IX, the federal law that mandated that there be equality of opportunity for girls and women.
Over the course of a career that would span 29 years, Ron Spinney’s Lady Viking teams racked up 402 wins, capturing seven Northeastern Conference championships, four MIAA North Sectional titles, and four Eastern Mass. titles.
The legendary 1983 team, led by Maureen McManus Hill, Lisa Monteleone Ferrara, Pamela Hubley Sullivan, Eileen Kelly, Mary Wood, Denise Millerick, Leann Mirabella, and Christine Bruce, went 23-1 and won the Eastern Mass. title by avenging its only regular-season loss to Westwood in the Eastern Mass. championship game on St. Patrick’s Day in Braintree. (There was no state championship game that season because of the energy crisis.)
The teams of the early 1990s, led by Lori Thomas, Joanna Saggese, Liz Doherty, Krissy Indresano, and Cheri Lee, represented another era in which Ron Spinney coached the WHS program to greatness.
But those two teams are just the proverbial tip of the iceberg when assessing Ron Spinney’s coaching prowess and impact on the WHS girls program. There were countless other tremendous teams right from the start in the 1970s throughout Ron’s entire tenure, bringing to mind countless outstanding athletes such as Amy Sullivan, Marie Biggio, Debbie Consoli, and Linda Wessling — the list could go on and on.
What always impressed us while writing about the WHS girls team for all of those years is how Ron often took a group of girls that at the beginning of the season may not have been either the most experienced or talented, but then, together with his long-time assistant coach, Jim Nimblett, molded them, through his emphasis on defense and fundamentals, into a force that by the second half of the year had far overachieved expectations and gave even the top teams in the NEC in any particular year a run for their money.
We know we join with all of Ron’s former players, their parents, and WHS fans in offering our congratulations to Ron Spinney upon this great honor.