Men’s Basketball Coach Mike Apple always thought Sandhills Community College was a fun place. His mother, Helen Apple, was a Sandhills’ staff member for 33 years and often took her son to campus.
“Sandhills has always had genuinely nice people,” Coach Apple recalls. “I remember Jim Halstead teaching me how to make a jump shot and Terrell West giving me tennis lessons.”
Coach Apple brought his own fun to Sandhills when he led the Flyers to capture the 2012 NJCAA Division III National Championship. Sandhills became the first men’s team from North Carolina to win a junior-college national championship. “To bring the title to this wonderful campus, to have this community earn the national spotlight, was such a thrill,” the coach says.
Remarkably, that season was Coach Apple’s first experience as a college coach. Furthermore, he led his team to that ultimate victory as a part-time coach; he also teaches at Pinecrest High School.
“Sandhills’ athletes are a dedicated group,” he says with enthusiasm. “Even though they don’t live on campus or have training tables and other perks, I am very impressed with their effort and skill.”
Indeed! In the last three years, 14 players have gone on to obtain scholarships to four-year universities.
Mrs. Apple certainly enjoys having her son shine as the men’s basketball coach at the school she served so well. She was hired for the student services office in 1965 by Dr. Raymond Stone, Sandhills’ first president. Over the years, she worked with Sidney Chappell, Jim Halstead, and Don Scott before retiring in 1998. “It was definitely a great place to work,” she recalls.
She and her husband Lewis were on hand when the Flyers won the regional championship but did not travel to New York for the national game. “If we knew Mike was going to win, we would have gone,” she says with a chuckle.
“We are very proud of him and what he’s contributed to Sandhills,” she adds.