The man behind the whistle

john spears2You just assume that John Spears was always the John Spears that we all know and love – the basketball coach who knows how to get the most out of his players, the high-school and college referee who can bring a hostile gym or arena to silence or an uproar with a single whistle.

It all started because Spears got hooked on noontime basketball at the YMCA 32 years ago.

“I was working second shift at the Howard Johnson’s, and somebody told me about noon ball at the Y. I came down, and I got hooked, and the rest is history,” said Spears, the director of youth sports at the Waynesboro YMCA.

In addition to his coaching and refereeing, Spears oversees the year-round basketball program at the Y, which currently has 225 kids in leagues for children ages 5-14. Rec-league ball is the focus right now, and in the spring and summer, it’s AAU time, with the work running the age gamut, from the elementary-school set to high-school upperclassmen. Read more