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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Mammoth Spring Bears have new coach

Thursday, June 14, 2012

New Mammoth Spring Boy's Basketball Coach Matt Ragsdale (center) talks with team members and parents on June 7, after players received their state championship rings. Ragsdale said strong community support for the Bears influenced his decision to take the Mammoth Spring coaching job. Photo by Steven Looney [Order this photo]
The Mammoth Spring school district hired a new boy's basketball coach on Tuesday, June 5, as the Jeremy Cude era, which included Conference Championships and the Class 1A State Championship title last March, officially came to an end after six seasons.

"We received Coach Cude's resignation on the fifth, and I called a special school board meeting," Superintendent David Turnbough said. "The board accepted my recommendation to hire Matt Ragsdale to fill the position of boy's basketball coach."

Ragsdale will begin his first high school coaching job in early July. He is a native of Bentonville, and was a four year basketball letterman at Harding University in Searcy, where he served as a Graduate Assistant to the team this year.

"In checking his references and speaking with other schools that had considered him, Matt was highly recommended," Turnbough said. "He will be here next week (June 11) to meet people, get a class schedule and find a place to live. He will begin his basketball duties in July."

According to Turnbough, Ragsdale will teach a full set of classes. He is licensed to teach health and physical education.

Ragsdale is having a busy June. Besides getting hired and preparing to move to a new town, he is also getting married this month.

According to Harding University Men's Basketball Coach Jeff Morgan, Ragsdale red-shirted his freshman year, played for four years and served as Graduate Assistant last year, as he completed a masters degree.

"Matt was a big part of our success over the last six years, as a player and graduate assistant," Coach Morgan told The News. "Obviously we are very excited for Matt to get this opportunity. Mammoth has a great program, and Matt will bring a lot of enthusiasm to the game, and for the young men that he will be working with in the program."

Morgan said, at Harding, Ragsdale was an Exercise Science major, who intended to seek a career in physical therapy, but, in his Junior year, Ragsdale decided he wanted to become a coach.

"He was sort of like me," Morgan said, "He changed course and decided to go into coaching, because that is where his passion and love is. He is a smart kid, and has a good understanding of the game (of basketball). I know he is going to do a good job."

Ragsdale's hiring comes after a three or four week period that the Mammoth Spring basketball program was in limbo. Cude had informed Superintendent Turnbough that he had accepted a job with Riverview High School in Searcy. But, while Cude was introduced to his new team on May 22 and began work to get established, he did not resign until June 5, because of delays in obtaining, reviewing and signing a contract with his new school.

On Thursday, June 7, Ragsdale and Cude crossed paths as the Mammoth Spring boy's team and supporters gathered at the school to receive their state championship rings, which were purchased after a fundraising campaign.

In emotional comments to the crowd, Cude thanked the community for its kindness to his family, during his six years of coaching.

"You know all the times I hugged your neck and told you I love you -- I meant it," Cude told his team, as he held back tears. "If you guys need anything, my door is open. I love you."

Ragsdale visited with players and parents after the ceremony, saying he was impressed with the support the community gave the Bears during their championship run. He vowed to work to keep the school's winning tradition going.

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