Sports Editor: Michael O’Neill
Ella Hargett is a steady force of positive energy, and a pillar of the sports community, both at Wingate University and Forest Hills High School. She’s pulled for several generations of athletes at Wingate and Forest Hills, showing up with passion to pull for her sports team.
Her roots in the area date back to her years as the first girls basketball coach at Forest Hills — she held the post from 1960-64. In 1964, she married Ralph Hargett.
The Matriarch of Marshville (and Wingate) for decades now, Ella helped with healing at both schools when they were grieving through the unexpected loss of her husband, the treasured former Forest Hills basketball coach Ralph Hargett, who died on Feb. 27, 2000. Ralph was the boys basketball coach at Forest Hills from 1961 until 1992.
Six days after Ralph’s passing, Ella went to the South Atlantic Conference tournament title game to give the Wingate men’s basketball team her faithful support. The result? The Bulldogs won the conference tournament and players and coaches stopped to give Ella their love, and to show appreciation that she made the trip under the circumstances.
“They expect me to be there,” said Ella, also known as the Queen Bee. “If I’m not there, they know I’m not there because I cheer when I go. I’m on the 50-yard line at the court, and that’s why I chose that seat there.”
Forest Hills athletic director Jake Thomas appreciates the support of the school’s biggest fan.
“She lives Forest Hills and continues to support our programs in many ways,” Thomas said. “She loves basketball, but can also be seen … on Friday nights during football (season) watching from the comfort of her VIP suite.”
When Matt Sides was hired to be the head boys basketball coach at Forest Hills, he vowed that his team would play one game at the J. Ralph Hargett gymnasium every season. That touched Ella’s heart. She made speeches at the annual Hargett games in “Ralph’s House” each year until Thomas decided to switch it up this year.
Kim Hargett and Thomas coordinated a surprise event to recognize Ella for her years of service to Forest Hills and for being their super-fan. Between their home varsity games against CATA on Jan. 10, Ella was called to half-court and received a bouquet of yellow flowers and a standing ovation from former players.
The Queen Bee has no plans to slow down with her support, and neither do her daughters, Kim and Ty. She plans to continue supporting Wingate and Forest Hills in every way she can.
Kim has enjoyed seeing her Mom being treated so well by the players and coaches through the decades. The Hargett family cherishes the time together, and enjoy filling the scrapbook with memories.
“It was wonderful and appropriate for Forest Hills to honor Mom being the very first girls basketball coach at Forest Hills,” Kim said. “As far as we know, we think that she is the last one standing. … I was pleased that (the school) gave her flowers to honor her.”
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