After 23 years as an assistant coach at James River, E.D. Schechterly is in charge. The James River High graduate and long-time assistant coach was named head girls basketball coach last week.

Schechterly replaces Mark Emick, who coached the girls at River for just one year. Emick recently took a job as a physical education teacher at his alma mater, Northside, and in the meantime he has been named athletic director for the Vikings.

Schechterly served as the varsity assistant for Emick last year, and for 22 years prior to that he was on the bench next to Dan Bowser. In fact, when E.D. started coaching 23 years ago he assisted Bowser with the girls in the fall and the boys in the winter before heading outside to help the softball team in the spring. This will be his first position as a head varsity coach.

“With a small school like James River, it doesn’t really matter, we all work together,” said Schechterly.

E.D. was a standout player for the Knights during his high school days under boys basketball coaching legend John Shotwell, whom he later assisted with the softball team. After graduating from River in 1975, Schechterly went on to play at Lynchburg College, where he was one of the best players in the history of Hornets basketball.

A 6’9” center, Schechterly was All-Conference for four years and a two-time Old Dominion Athletic Conference Player of the Year. He was a Division III All-American as a senior, and his junior year he led the nation in field goal percentage at 71.9 percent.

His success in college earned him a spot on a pro team in Argentina, where he played for two seasons. E.D. said it was a far cry from the NBA.

“You didn’t make a hundred million dollars and they didn’t give you three or four steps before they called walking,” he said. “It was more like an advanced college team. It was a great experience.”

After returning to the states he managed a Dollar Store for a spell before taking a job with Ingersoll Rand for 18 years. During his time at Ingersoll Rand, he decided to inquire about coaching at his old high school, and the Knights were glad to have him. Now, 23 years later, he’s in charge of the program.

This job won’t be easy. He’ll be the third head coach in three years and take over a program that is 6-66 in the last three seasons. The past two years the Knights have been 1-22 and 1-20, and whoever has been in charge has had a tough time getting girls out for the team.

E.D. is hoping that won’t be a problem, but in two open gym sessions thus far he’s had three girls show up each time. He’s hoping to take them to a summer tournament at William Byrd on July 28 and 29, but only if he can get 10 girls to commit to the event.

“We need at least 10,” he said. “We’d play three games a day and I know some of them aren’t going to be in great shape since it’s summer vacation time. Plus, some of them are playing other sports.”

Girls “playing other sports” has not been kind to James River girls basketball. It’s a small school and the talent has been spread thin, with basketball taking the back seat in recent years. There was a time not long ago when River had a strong team every season, but in recent years the numbers have thinned out.

“Kids these days have so much they can do not involving sports, and they have more sports to choose from than we did back when I was in school,” said Schechterly. “If they don’t want to be here, I don’t want them. I want players who are going to be dedicated and willing to put in the time needed.”

E.D. has asked Hannah Ward, who was the jayvee coach last year, to be his varsity assistant. Schechterly’s daughter Miranda, who was an outstanding player in her own right at James River, will take over as jayvee coach. E.D. has several other assistants in mind who have yet to be confirmed.

“I’m anxious to get going,” he said. “We’ll have eight back from last year if everyone returns, and I’m looking for us to be much improved.”