Unaka's Lowe steps over the mountain

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  There's will be some big shoes to fill for a former Unaka high school standout Dawn Lowe, as she has been named the new head coach for the girls basketball program at Mitchell County.
  The Mountaineers have a rich tradition when it comes to ladies basketball, for they have won two state titles within the past eight seasons.
  "We've discussed the fact that there's a lot of pressure for anybody who coaches in that position," said Lowe. "I've already been asked if we're going to win the state championship, and that's a lot of pressure on any coach. There's enough talent to do it, but with that added pressure, I don't know if that's good or not."
  Last time Mitchell Co. walked away as champions was in 2002 under head coach Bruce Woody.
  With the JV basketball program, Lowe has had winning success in recent years, and her experience ranges from assisting both coach Woody and Karen Cook, who won the first state title for Mitchell back in 1996.
  "Karen Cook was there when I started with the JV's, and then I spent two years helping out coach Bruce Woody, and they've won two championships since 1996," said Lowe. "It's a pretty good program."
  When the job came open after Cook's departure at the end of the 2001 season, Lowe decided not to apply at that time.
  Woody had coached the team during the 80's and retired to take over as principal.
  After retiring as a principal, Woody decided to give it another shot for the next two seasons, as he found immediate success in the first year out with a 1-AA state title.
  "The last time the position came open was two years ago, and I didn't apply for it because the lady who was there before was very successful," said Lowe. "The man who had been there for the last two years has been very successful, so it's like do you want the pressure of being under microscope because our girls program has been so good. When I finally decided this is what I want to do, then I thought I had a good shot at it for not as many people had applied. I had some people pulling for me and felt pretty confident I was the right person for the job, because there isn't but about three kids on the varsity that I haven't coached yet."
  Lowe has plenty to look forward to as expectations for this 2004 season appears promising with a lot of returning talent back on the floor.
  "I'm pretty excited and anxious for I have some real good players for this upcoming season," said Lowe.
  Lowe has been the ladies softball coach for the past couple of years, where she tied the record with the most wins ever in fast-pitch.
  Mitchell Co. seems to be steadily improving in this area, even though there's not near the emphasis on softball as there is on basketball.
  "We did better last year, which seven wins is not a good season, but it is with us," said Lowe. "Actually we tied for the most wins ever since we've went fast-pitch. Unaka beat up on us, but we did all right I guess."
  Lowe played at Unaka in both basketball and softball during the early 80's, where she learned how to properly prepare herself under coach Ronnie Hicks.
  "One thing I learned from him was you work hard, and you do everything you can before game time," said Lowe. "I've told my kids I haven't killed anybody yet from running them, and if I do then I might be a little bit easier. I think you out work your competition, and my kids believe that, and that's something he taught me."
  Lowe says coach Hicks worked them hard and they were pretty successful when she played and with the hard work comes success.
  As far as the Mountaineers outlook this season, expect a scrappy bunch reminiscence of a Pat Summitt-type ball club with a lot of pressure in the back-court.
  Size will not be much of a factor, but the relentless pressure in the backcourt and forcing of opponents mistakes will be the key with their success.
  "We should be strong even though we don't have a lot of height," said Lowe. "We've got basically guard-type people, and we'll play man-to-man fullcourt defense and hopefully wear you out at the end. Talent wise we have five seniors, five juniors, and two sophomores that were on junior varsity last year."
  Defense has always been the virtue for Mitchell Co., and it doesn't look to change any this season.
  "Hopefully our defense will create some offense for us," said Lowe. "What we've done in the past is take our defense and get all over you, then score. We've found out that we're not that good with putting a big girl in the middle with a half-court offense, but we can push the ball and run the floor well for we have some speed."
  Besides the athletic aspect of Dawn's life, her acceptance to the rural community of North Carolina has been a rather easy transition.
  Lowe is a teacher at Bowman Middle School in Bakersville, NC. and she says life there is much the same like what you'll find up Stoney Creek.
  "I do like being here at Mitchell Co., because it's a lot like being at home," said Lowe. "The people are basically the same and the kids are mostly good Christian kids. There's not a whole lot to do there, so they basically don't get in a whole lot of trouble. They worry more about grades than anything else, for they're mostly honor type students who are intelligent. That also helps you with coaching because you don't have to keep going over things for they usually get it after the first couple of times."