Passion, Enthusiasm and The Right Perspective Drive Ed Green’s Hardwood Expertise

)Ed Green talks strategy to his North Cross team during a recent VIS playoff game.

Ask area basketball icon Ed Green to reveal his age and you’ll get a pat answer.

“Just tell anyone who wants to know that I’m not ripe, yet,” Green says with a chuckle.

The longtime magician of the hardwood may well not be ripe, but it would be hard to argue that his record as a head coach and athletic director have always been fruitful.

Wearing many hats along the way, Green has coached at the college, community college and high school levels. He’s been the athletic director at Division I and D-III colleges, always balancing professional opportunities with family obligations.

And, according to radio and television broadcasting veteran, Dave Ross, Green has always done it with one impressive result.

“No matter where Ed Green has coached in his outstanding career, he’s always been a winner,” Ross, who has called games for over 40 years, emphatically points out.

Green, a native of Western Pennsylvania that he describes as halfway between State College and the Ohio line, recently completed another ultra-successful season in his fourth campaign as the head coach at North Cross School. He still has what it takes to bring home the wins.

“I still have passion and I still have enthusiasm,” Green notes with pride.

In a 2013 interview with former Play-by-Play writer, Mike Ashley, Green said, “I think if (coaching) is in your blood it never leaves you. I’ve always said I’d rather wear out than rust out.”

No worry, no rust is showing at all with Ed Green.

Green got his start in basketball at an early age and went on to become an all-state high school player in Pennsylvania, playing for Coach John McNulty. When Green got out of Clarion State, where a knee injury ended his playing days prematurely, he returned to coach the JV team at his high school alongside McNulty and another veteran, Perk Bennie.

“I had the opportunity to be involved with two older gentlemen and really learn the game,” Green noted. “I went to clinics all over the place and made a lot of contacts.”

One of those contacts, East Carolina coach Tom Quinn, talked Green into leaving Pennsylvania to move to the college level with the Pirates in Greenville, North Carolina. But, Green returned to the high school ranks when a head coaching job at the largest high school back home in Pennsylvania opened at DuBois High School.

Two years later, in 1976, Green had a tough decision when East Carolina wanted him back and Roanoke College head coach Mel Hankinson called, looking for an assistant.

“Roanoke was half way between Pennsylvania and Greenville and I had family considerations,” Green said. “I had to keep things in the proper perspective and Roanoke felt right.”

In 1976, he came to Roanoke and the college saw radical changes in its team records and spirit, coming off a 4-23 record. In 1977, Green became the head coach and his NCAA Division- II team had the greatest turn-around of any NCAA College or university team ever, finishing with a 14-11 record, a 10-win turnaround.

How did he do it? “I recruited good kids that had good character,” Green recalled. “They had big hearts and bought into the program.”

During Green’s first three years at Roanoke, the Maroons were a Division II college, preparing to transition to Division III. During those initial D-II years, Roanoke played teams like William & Mary, Dayton, VMI, James Madison, Richmond and George Mason.

“Roanoke’s move to Division III made sense,” Green points out. “All the schools were private schools and the views on academics were similar. Likewise, there was geographic continuity that made for better budget considerations.”

From 1977-1989 Green’s teams at Roanoke averaged 22 wins a year and compiled a 260-83 overall record. For seven straight years after his first season in 77-78, the Maroons enjoyed at least 20 wins or more a season.

His 76-percent winning percentage is No. 1 in winning percentage for Virginia Collegiate Coaches. He led Roanoke to seven straight ODAC Championships (1981-87) and to the NCAA postseason every year during that span.

Green’s 1982-83 team holds the school record for wins in a single season with 31 and advanced to the National Semifinals, a year after the 82 team advanced to the National Quarterfinals. An example of integrity, honesty and inspiration, he served as Director of Athletics his final eight years at Roanoke

With the superb records, honors followed Green. He was ODAC Coach of the Year in 1981 and Eastern Basketball Magazine’s Coach of the Year in 1982. Green was South Atlantic Regional Coach of the Year five times, one of the honors he is most proud because the selection was made by his peers.

Ed Green (right) and former Roanoke College player Gerald Holmes, who played for Green and now is his assistant coach at North Cross.

Green had opportunities to move up the ladder, including a chance to become one of Lefty Driesell’s assistants at Maryland, but he had just taken on the athletic director’s job at Roanoke, and felt he shouldn’t leave the Maroons. He also would have an opportunity at McNeese State, but his son, Eddie, was going through some medical issues, and again, putting family first, the timing wasn’t right.

“I knew the opportunity would be there down the road for me to move from Division III to Division I,” Green said.

That came to past in 1989 when he became athletic director at D-I Coastal Carolina in Conway, South Carolina. After an administrative change at Coastal, he decided it was time to move on, returning to York, Pennsylvania for a high school assistant principal’s position.

He had an opportunity to become an assistant at the University of New Orleans, but a severe fall resulted in surgery in 1995, and the recuperation led him and his wife, Nancy, to move back to Roanoke.

In 1996 Green returned to coaching at Shawsville High School. He moved on to Eastern Montgomery High School, was the head coach at Virginia Western, assisted Page Moir at Roanoke and pioneered an innovative children/adult sports training program in local recreation departments. Ed Green clearly loved the game of basketball.

Green joined North Cross in May, 2013, replacing the retiring Bill Hodges, who had NCAA fame reaching the National Championship game with Indiana State in 1979 with star player Larry Bird.

In his four years at North Cross, Green has compiled an 86-32 record and the team’s 26 wins in 2016-17 are the most in North Cross history in a single season. His Raider teams have won conference championships 3 of the past 4 years and participated in the state playoffs in those same 3 years.

“It’s been a great experience at North Cross,” Green says. “Gerald Holmes, one of my former players at Roanoke, has been my assistant and like a son. I’ve had tremendous support from our headmaster, Chris Proctor, and Eric Lawrence, our athletic director.”

As he says, Green may well not be ripe, quite yet. The passion is still there and the wins keep coming . . .  and all the while he is keeping things in their proper perspective.

Bill Turner