Moore remains Union's boys basketball coach

Kevin Mays • Jul 24, 2019 at 12:39 AM

WISE — Zack Moore is still Union’s boys basketball coach.

Without comment, the Wise County School Board unanimously voted Tuesday to approve the coaching contract list presented by Superintendent Dr. Greg Mullins, on which Moore was included.

Moore has been the Bears’ coach the past eight seasons. However, there was serious question as to whether his coaching contract would be renewed heading into Tuesday’s school board meeting. Although school officials have declined comment, the questions regarding Moore seemed to surround the actions of some athletes at Union.

However on Tuesday, speaker after speaker defended Moore and his character as a coach and a person.

“I’m blessed,” Moore said minutes after hearing the board’s decision. “During this whole two months, I’ve received calls and texts from former players just saying what having me as their coach meant to them. That’s all you need as a coach.

“I’m just excited to still be the basketball coach at Union High School.”


Moore is the only boys basketball coach Union has had in its eight years of existence.

Prior to coaching at Union, he coached the boys at Powell Valley, which consolidated with Appalachia to form Union. In his 13 years of combined coaching at the two schools, Moore’s teams have compiled a record of 199-113 and he’s never had a losing season.


Mike Allen, a former assistant coach for Moore, questioned the board’s timing about the decision. Allen noted that Moore was allowed to attend camps and run drills over the summer.

“He just led the team through a 30-game summer schedule. If there’s a feeling that he has failed to oversee the program or if there’s a lack of trust, why did you just exhaust him for 30 games to lead his program?” Allen said. “Do you not trust him now or did you not trust him then?”

Preston Mitchell, who coached against Moore in high school and coached Moore as an assistant at Virginia-Wise, said he has known Moore for decades. Mitchell said he’s a man of character and demands the best from his players.

Mitchell also said the board seemed to be operating in a shroud of mystery by not addressing the “elephant in the room.”

“No one wants to answer it and I think that’s a shame,” Mitchell said. “Coach Moore didn’t encourage, condone nor create a culture where there is a lack of discipline.”


Several other individuals, including current and former players, spoke on Moore’s behalf during Tuesday’s public expression period.

Daemai Lester, who played his sophomore season at Union before going to Wise Central last year, said Moore was a big reason he’d returned to Union.

Lester said that as a foster child, he’s been from “place to place.” When he left Union last year, he said he was afraid of what might happen if he returned to the Big Stone Gap school. Moore, Lester said, welcomed him back to the program with open arms.

“He’s the kind of man to not only let me come back to the program, not only as a part of the team but as a part of a family,” Lester said. “I’ve never really had a role model like that.

“This is my senior year and I don’t know what I would do if he’s not coaching,” he added.

Union graduate Connor Giza, who played for Moore last season, said the coach taught him leadership and responsibility.

“I wouldn’t be the man I am today if it wasn’t for Coach Moore,” Giza said. “Coach Moore is a good coach, a good father, a good husband, but more importantly a good man.”

Chuck Summers said his son played for Moore before graduating in 2018 and he has another son who hopes to do the same.

Summers said his older son suffered a season-ending injury playing football his senior year and wasn’t able to play basketball. Moore kept him in the basketball program so he could be a part of the team, Summers said.

“That speaks volumes,” he said.

Adrion Jenkins, who graduated from Union two years ago, said Moore’s guidance plays an important part of his life to this day.

“He helped me grow as a man,” Jenkins said. “He is the kind of man I aspire to be.”

Darrell Ely of Big Stone Gap said he’s missed about two games in the last 20 years. Ely said he’s watched Moore coach his entire career at Powell Valley and Union and has seen nothing but professionalism.

“I’ve seen players get out of line and when they did, he sat them down,” Ely noted.

No one spoke negatively about Moore during the public expression period.

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