Pierce loved playing, refereeing sports

Published 2:24 pm Tuesday, May 12, 2020

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“She always did a good job. If she missed one she would come back
and tell you. Never really saw her without a smile on her face” said
Happy Valley Coach Dana Hill.
He is talking about former Ranger athlete and retired referee Jeannie
Campbell Pierce.

Jeannie didn’t start playing basketball till the seventh grade for the Unaka
Youth Club.
Her youth club and her coaches were Wayne and Zane Peters. She would
play her first year of school ball in the eighth grade under the leadership of
Coach John Honeycutt and Don Parkey.
They won all the leagues and tournaments and were crowned Regional champs.
Jeannie went on to play basketball all four years in high school from 1984-1987.
Her first two years her coaches were Javy Taylor and Don Parkey who had moved
up to the high school.
Jeanie said, “I didn’t know anything about basketball, didn’t even know how to
shoot the ball but Parkey worked with me and I learned how to shoot and dribble
the ball.”

She didn’t play a lot in the first two years because Unaka didn’t have enough girls
to have a junior varsity team.
Pierce tried to learn everything she could. Some of her teammates were Marsha
Taylor and Stephanie (Hardin) Ensor.
Unaka had a good team, going to the sub-state both her freshman and sophomore
Her junior and senior years her coaches were Ronnie Hicks and Don Parkey.
“In 1986 it was the best year of my life,” said Pierce. “ I got to start in the lineup
alongside Lisa and Angie Peters, Robin Ensor, and Tracey Shoun.”
Pierce also played softball during her freshman, sophomore, and junior years.
She was the catcher in her junior year, along with Lisa Peters who was a pitcher.
Jeannie made all-district and all regional that year.
Pierce would not play her senior season because she got  her first job at Long John
Silvers and she really wanted a car.
She did get a partial scholarship to Milligan College to play basketball, where
the highlight of that short-lived experience was when she scored 18 points to help
her team win an important game.

She was asked to come back to Unaka Elementary by Coach Parkey to help coach his
team as he went back to middle school sports.
There she stayed on the coaching staff for three years. It was three great years when
Alice Peters started as a sixth-grader and the Jr. Lady Rangers won all the District and
Regional tournaments going one season undefeated and losing only one game the
following year.

After Jeannie had enough coaching she wanted to stay with the sports. She would buy a
stripped shirt, whistle, some black slacks, and register with the TSSAA to become a referee.
She began officiating basketball and was an umpire in softball and baseball.  This was
something she loved to do and looked forward to calling games.
Pierce was an official for nearly twelve years before her health would cause her to retire.
Former Unaka baseball coach Mike Ensor stated, “She is a great person and was a terrific
umpire and basketball official, even if she did miss one call.
“Jeannie took care of me all my life,” said Laura Parkey, daughter of Coach Don Parkey.
“She took me everywhere with her and even gave me baths in her sink. I stayed with her all
the time and she’s an awesome cook. I love her with everything in me.”
After Jeannie finished her first year, she worked in tournaments every year and even worked
some college JV games that Herb Greenlee took her to.
Now she spends most of her time now taking care of her granddaughter, Bailee.

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