At the Conference Carolinas Spring Meeting this month, Emmanuel Women’s Basketball Coach Mike Bona received the Legends Award for the impact he has made on the program and in the sport.
Coach Bona has been a fixture at Emmanuel for more than 45 years, collecting over 750 wins for the Lady Lions. While at Emmanuel, he has served the Athletic Department in several capacities, including serving as the Athletic Director. In 1991, Bona was voted by the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association as the Converse Junior College Women’s National Coach of the Year.
Here’s what several of his former players and assistant coaches had to say about Coach!
Coach Bona, I could say so much! But what it all burrows down to is Coach Bona saved my basketball career, and ultimately changed my entire life for the better. Between my freshman and sophomore year of college, I was at an extremely pivotal point in my life. I had come to a place where I was going to give one last effort to continue playing ball or not, and that one last effort was a call to Coach Bona. I remember he missed the call but texted me right after and said he was in a meeting, but would call me soon, and by the end of the day we were planning a meeting, and within a week I was headed to Emmanuel College to play ball my sophomore year. I experienced so many emotions, excitement, gratefulness, and pure shock. But, ultimately, Bona played a much larger role in my life than I give him credit for. I have gained so many lifelong friends from Emmanuel and he granted me an amazing college basketball career, and I can never deny that; the thanks go to him. He is well-deserving of the Legend award. He gave me a chance, and I know he has given many girls before and after me the same, and I can only believe and hope they feel the exact same way. Thank you, Coach Bona.
Elise Coberly (player – 2014-17, student assistant 2017-18)
Dear Coach Bona,
You are a true blessing! Thank you for giving me the opportunity to come and play at Emmanuel College. Through my 5 years of being there, I really appreciate everything you have done for me. From coaching to being a listening ear outside of basketball and opening your home up for Wednesday nights family night. I really appreciate and miss those days! Thank you for all that you do! I pray that you continue to bring more blessings and growth to Emmanuel College!
Caneisha Bell (2012)
Ohhhh mannnn! Where do I start! There are soooo many phrases that I can quote…
Let’s start with … “I’ve been mummified!” If you know… you know! Hahaha
Bihhhhhhhh MIKKKKEEE wit da GREEN EYES! What an accomplishment! Legendary is the perfect word to sum up what you’ve done and who you are! I will never forget the first day we met, and my first time stepping foot in “The Holy Land.” Initially, I didn’t see Emmanuel for what it is; it was your passion, commitment, and dedication that opened my eyes to how special of a place Emmanuel is. I believe Emmanuel is such a magical place because strong pillars like yourself continue to support each wide-eyed generation that graces its footsteps.
My time at Emmanuel would have been completely different if it wasn’t for your guidance and love. I cherish all of our fond memories from Minute to Win It challenges in the old house, eating at Bob Evans, watching your hair stay in place through all of the “turbulence,” watching you “dance”… completely off beat, to you simply taking us to get ice cream after a very tough loss. The lesson I learned through your coaching matured me, but it was the lessons that you taught me off the court that transformed me! I am blessed to be one of the few who transitioned from player to coach. Your thoughtfulness and generous heart will forever be the things I love most about you. Our relationship has bloomed so beautifully over these past 15 years, and I cannot think of a better person to receive the Legends award. I may be biased, but even if I am, your amazing achievements speak for themselves. Thank you for all that you’ve done for me and the significant impact that you’ve had/have on my life. I’m not sure where I would be without you (and Momma of course).Congratulations! You deserve this and much more! Go Lady Lions!
– Love – YOUR FAVORITE!!! (Ashley Jackson)
Coach Bona, is first a godly man, Awesome Husband, Great Dad and the best coach ever! I was recruited by Coach Bona during my senior year. I played 1982-1984, as a Lady Lion. We had an awesome team, very disciplined, structured and talented. Coach Bona led us to a lot of wins and a championship (banner accomplishment). As a player, he taught me so much about myself. He pushed me beyond what I thought I was capable of, as his point guard. I gave him 110% because that’s what he and the team deserved from me. I loved playing for him and the friends I made during my career were a blessing.
As a person, he taught me to stand up for myself, carry myself in a respectful manner, and he loved me as he loved all his girls (Players). Coach Bona was my coach first but also a father figure and a friend.
I ended up with the nick name ET, because I called my granny every night. I missed home and felt the closest to home on the team.
I will be forever grateful for Coach Bona and his family for the great memories .
Kim Bray (player – 1982- 1984)
In my 8 years under the leadership of Coach Bona, one thing has always been evident: the care that he has for those he leads. I will forever be thankful for Coach Bona giving me the opportunity to play at the college level and putting his trust in me as a young coach. Coach Bona shared so much wisdom and knowledge with me over the years and I am grateful that God so strategically placed him in my life. Congrats coach, you are truly a legend!
Timia Reynolds (former player and associate head coach)