Mount Airy girls basketball coach Howard Mayo announced Wednesday that he is stepping down from the program and taking the same job at Galax (Virginia) High School.
Mayo finishes his career in charge of the Lady Bears with a record of 235-97 over an 11-year stretch. Before coming to Mount Airy, he had successful stints at Carroll County (Va.), and Starmount high schools. Mayo gave Mount Airy his official resignation moments after receiving and accepting the job offer from Galax on Wednesday morning.
“I am very grateful for the opportunity to work with (principal) Sandy George and (athletic director) Donald Price. They are two terrific individuals,” Mayo said.
At Mount Airy, Mayo averaged 21 wins a season while competing in one of the state’s most difficult 1A girls basketball leagues. His teams consistently competed well with the likes of Atkins, Bishop McGuinness and Winston-Salem Prep in the Northwest Conference. Either the Lady Phoenix or the Lady Villains were crowned state champions at the end of every season since Mayo arrived at Mount Airy in 2004.
Mount Airy has also had no shortage of players receiving scholarships to play basketball at the collegiate level with Mayo at the helm. Sisters Jordan (Lenoir-Rhyne) and Taylor Hiatt (Brevard) have recently wrapped up their college basketball careers, while Mikayla Seivers (Salem) and Kathryn Beasley (Brevard) are still representing the Lady Bear program at the next level. Current senior Ayano Shelton will be next in line, as she will continue her playing days at North Greenville University next season.
Despite all of the success, Coach Mayo admits that the toughest part about leaving the Lady Bear program will be saying goodbye to the many connections he’s made over the years.
“I’ve been very fortunate to coach some outstanding people who have also been good basketball players,” Mayo said. “I’m just going to miss the individual relationships that I’ve developed while the coach at Mount Airy.”
Mayo’s former players are thankful for the lessons he provided both on and off the basketball court.
“Coach Mayo has helped shape me into the individual that I am today,” former Lady Bear basketball player Alex Atkins wrote to the Mount Airy News. “He always encouraged me to be not only the best basketball player that I could, but also the best person that I can be. He made a point to his players that life is not about going through the motions, but living for a purpose beyond the walls of the basketball gym. His knowledge for basketball is incomparable, and I am truly blessed to have had him as a coach and most importantly as a friend.”
Mayo’s new job will serve somewhat as a homecoming opportunity. Mayo grew up in Virginia, played basketball at Bluefield College, and took his first coaching job at Rocky Gap High School, which used to be in the same athletic conference as Galax.
“I think it’s going to be a great situation for me,” Mayo said. “The opportunity to develop a program and be in charge of strength and conditioning for all of the girls’ sports at Galax are things that I’m excited for.”
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