Ron Spinney, who led Winthrop High School girls’ basketball teams to 406 victories and numerous titles during his spectacular 29-year career as head coach, was inducted into the Massachusetts Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame at a banquet Sunday at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester.
Elizabeth Spinney had the honor of introducing her father before his induction.
“I feel so honored to be a part of this wonderful occasion, and I’m here to introduce Coach Ronald Spinney – he’s my father and he was my coach for many years,” said Elizabeth, noting that her sisters Katherine and Leslie (who was unable to attend the event) also played basketball for their father. “My father started coaching girls basketball in 1973, which was the year I was born.”
Elizabeth said her father created “a program of excellence for girls who wanted to play basketball in the Town of Winthrop” adding that he also coached AAU basketball and directed basketball camps.
“And he did this all with professionalism and integrity,” she said.
Elizabeth said she always admired her father’s dedication to his program. “When I was born, my birth announcement was in the sports section,” said Elizabeth, drawing a laugh from the audience. “Basketball was like a wonderful extended family that my father gave to us.
“We’re so proud of my father’s accomplishments.”
Spinney received a standing ovation from the crowd that included family, colleagues from Winthrop High School, Lisa Monteleone Ferrara, one of the stars of the 1983 Eastern Mass. championship team, and his long-time friend and dedicated assistant coach, Jim Nimblett.
Ever the ambassador of girls basketball and always inspiring his plays to excel off the court, Spinney generously devoted much of his speech to thanking those who helped him along his path to greatness.
“I was very fortunate to have an athletic director who was pro-girls sports,” said Spinney, acknowledging the presence of former Winthrop AD Jim Evans in the audience. “Jim made sure we had all the necessary equipment, all the necessary time, all the necessary ingredients to make a program successful. It was through his leadership and his foresight that Winthrop, the smallest team in the Northeastern, dominated the Northeastern Conference and we were up for many, many years, thanks to Jim.”
Spinney thanked middle school coaches Rich Murphy, Ed Nazzaro, and Joe Conceison for developing athletes so they could compete in high school basketball.
He credited Jim Nimblett, “my assistant for 20 years,” as being the glue that held that held the team together.
“Jim was the one who would calm everybody down and get the girls ready to go back in and play, and I want to thank Jim for all that he accomplished,” said Spinney.
The coach thanked long-time team manager and official scorekeeper, Peg Bailey, for her contributions to the program. “My scorekeeper sat on the bench, kept the score, kept the clock and ran the 30-second clock all by herself – thank you, Peg.” said Spinney.
Spinney thanked his daughters, Elizabeth, Leslie, and Katherine, for their support, noting he was not only their basketball coach but one of their high school teachers.
Spinney saved his most heartwarming message for his wife, Joan Alexander.
“I would also like to thank the foundation upon which the Spinney family is built and that is my wife, Joan Alexander,” he said. “It was mentioned the dedication, the time, and the effort that it takes to be a head coach, between practice, and games, and summer camps, and clinics. It’s Joan who made the Spinney family successful and my three daughters outstanding high school citizens and now such outstanding young women. So, Joan, thank you.”
Lisa Monteleone Ferrara said what many of his former players were probably thinking when they heard that their amazing coach, Ron Spinney, was being inducted into the Hall of Fame. “I wouldn’t be the person I am today without Ron Spinney,” said Monteleone. “He did everything for me in high school basketball and I was able to go on to college and play for Bentley, all because of Coach Spinney. He was a great coach and a great mentor and had such a positive impact in my life, and his induction into the Hall of Fame is well deserving. I say, thank you and congratulations, Coach Spinney.”