OLD FORT – Twenty-five years have transpired since McDowell’s only state championship in girls basketball.
And now it is officially a “Silver” anniversary.
The NCHSAA has announced that former Titans coach Mike Silver is one of eight individuals who will join its hall of fame next spring.
Silver won 650 games in 32 years and his 1991 team remains the only state champion in the program’s history.
“It was a big thing for the county back then, and it’s still a big deal now,” Silver said Wednesday.
Silver has stayed active in retirement with a part-time job at the Biltmore Estate as well as hobbies like fishing and hunting. He was taken aback by the recognition from the NCHSAA. Silver chuckled at the coincidence that it comes 25 years after a McDowell team won the ultimate prize in 4-A basketball.
The Titans beat Pinecrest inside Chapel Hill’s Carmichael Auditorium by a 53-43 score.
“It’s quite an honor,” Silver said.
“I was very pleased and very humbled when I found out. It was really nice to win all those games, but I think the bottom line is I was there at a time when some really good kids came through. And we had some really good administrative support for a large number of years, and especially early on.”
The number of championships that Silver-led teams won is galling – 15 in regular-season conference play, 13 from various Christmas tournaments, 12 conference tournament titles, four regional crowns and, of course, the state championship (1991).
More than 80 of Silver’s players went on to play college basketball, including current Titans coach Jennifer Brooks (a Montreat grad).
Silver is also credited with founding McDowell’s softball and volleyball programs. He was inducted into the Titans’ athletic hall of fame four years ago.
Silver retired from teaching in 2007 and had hoped to continue coaching. He was forced out in a controversial vote by McDowell County Schools. At the time, Silver was the winningest active coach in North Carolina girls basketball.
Silver said he still prefers to take the high road in discussing the matter, and is at peace with it. He can still be seen in the crowd at Titans games from time-to-time.
“I don’t go to a lot,” Silver said.
“But I probably went to as many this past year as I ever have.”
Silver’s induction will take place April 9, 2017 in Chapel Hill.