Coach Spencer To Lead Final Game Tuesday - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

3/6/06-Athens

Coach Spencer To Lead Final Game Tuesday

One Texas college basketball's winningest coaches will lead his team for the last time this week.

Trinity Valley's Leon Spencer officially announced his plans to retire on Friday. For more than four decades, East Texas basketball fans have watched Coach Spencer pace the court.

"A lot of people say, 'You been here that long?' and I say, 'I guess they'll keep me around until I get it right.'" Coach Spencer said.

But Coach Spencer got it right. So much so, he became the coach with the most wins in Texas junior college history.

"I just feel so fortunate to be able to accomplish that, and like I say, I didn't do it all by myself."

After 44 years of coaching, 42 with Trinity Valley, the hall of fame coach will no longer sit at the head of the bench.

"It was really a tough decision," he said. "But I had been thinking about it since last year."

Bowing out at age 67, Coach Spencer has 809 career wins with the Cardinals, leading them to 13 region and 14 conference titles, and three NJCAA tournament appearances. He has coached NBA stars like Shawn Kemp and Nick Van Excel.

The coach said news of his retirement surprised players, former and current.

"Some are a little shocked," he said. "Some thought I would never quit. But, I didn't want my daughters to have to clean out my desk, so I figured I'd better leave while I was still in pretty good health," he laughed.

Now the coach in the red blazer and white shirt, looks to life away from the court. Still he knows he can never fully leave the game behind.

"I'll actually miss teaching basketball. It's been a great game to coach and a challenge to coach all these years."

Coach Spencer's last game as the head coach of the Trinity Valley men is this Tuesday, March 7, on the road at Lon Morris in Jacksonville. Tip off is at 7:30 p.m. at the Smith Event Center.

Maya Golden reporting, mgolden@kltv.com
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