By Devin Golden
VARNELL — Margaret Stockburger won 326 games in her 15 seasons as the head coach of Northwest Whitfield High School’s girls basketball team.
That’s a lot of games, a lot of players, a lot of assistant coaches and a lot of memories.
Stockburger — now the head coach at Ringgold — returned Tuesday to coach her first high school game in Whitfield County since retiring three years ago. She didn’t get win No. 327, though, as her Lady Tigers lost 49-38 at Coahulla Creek, a school that wasn’t open the year she retired at Northwest.
Truthfully, she didn’t really give much thought to her “return” to the county where she did so well. She coached for 31 years at Northwest — the first 16 years as either the freshman or junior varsity coach and the rest as the varsity coach. She reached the state postseason nine times and led the Lady Bruins to the Class 4A state championship in 2010, the year before she stepped down.
“I don’t think about that kind of thing,” Stockburger said. “It’s a game. You have to go play whether it’s in Whitfield County or all the way in Bartow County. I don’t make a whole lot about that. No one really said much about it.”
She does admit she has plenty of ties to the area.
“I made a lot of good friends in Whitfield County,” she said. “I like to stay in contact with people here. I stay in contact with the people at Northwest as well. You don’t ever cut ties off when you’re somewhere that long.”
Yet, there were people who remembered her accomplishments. Some had even deeper ties. Coahulla Creek boys coach Matthew Queener was an assistant on Stockburger’s staff during the 2005-2006 season.
“There isn’t anyone better,” Queener said. “When I first got the job here, I probably tired her out (with my questions). She’s been doing this so long, she’s forgotten more things than I know.”
Ringgold is 6-18 overall and 4-9 in Region 5-3A games. Last season, the Lady Tigers didn’t win a game.
Stockburger was the Ringgold Middle School coach for the 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 seasons and now has three freshmen starting who played for her the previous two years.
Stockburger believes the future is bright for the Lady Tigers because she believes the young players will mature and wins will come for a program that has just one postseason appearance in the past 14 years.
“I think we’ve made a lot of progress from the summer since camps,” Stockburger said. “You have your dropbacks when you don’t do well at times. Overall, I think they go hard and do their best. Sometimes things just don’t work out the way you want, and the other team has something to do with that.”