By Bruce Campbell, Staff Writer
Enid News & Eagle
After 34 years on the sidelines, Randy Turney is trading his title as basketball coach for something more meaningful to him — father.
Turney, who took an overachieving, seven-man Burlington boys team to the Class B state tournament this season, is retiring in order to follow coaching daughters Tasha Diesselhorst at Pond Creek-Hunter and Tana Turney at Kremlin-Hillsdale.
“I just want to be a dad and be there when they need me,’’ Turney said. “The kids that play for you become a part of your life, but there’s nothing like blood family, especially since they are in the same profession as me. I would like to be around them to show support.’’
Turney knew it was time during the recent area tournament. His Elks were playing in the winners bracket finals against Coyle at Cleveland, but his heart and mind were with Tasha’s Lady Panthers, who were playing for a state tournament berth at Stroud.
“That sent a message to me where my heart was,’’ Turney said. “Even though I was playing a game myself, I wanted to be there for her.’’
Turney’s wife, Robyn, who kept his books and has been an assistant at times, was another consideration.
“She wasn’t getting to as many of Tasha and Tana’s games as she would have liked,’’ Turney said.
Turney had a 610-245 record in 31 years as a boys coach at Drummond, Dover, Burlington, Enid, Medford and Burlington again and a 173-45 record in eight seasons as a girls coach at Medford and Cherokee.
In his final season, the Elks won the Cherokee Strip, district, regional and area consolation championship to return to the state tournament for the third straight year.
“This bunch was just amazing,’’ Turney said. “They weren’t the most talented team that I ever had, but they worked hard and played together better than any group that I have had.”
Turney came into the season needing 13 wins to reach the 600-win mark. He was pretty sure this was going to be his last season, but didn’t know if the Elks could win that many in the preseason.
“We only had seven guys, but they spent as much time as any group that I had in the gym,’’ Turney said. “I just admire their work ethic and character.’’
The 2013 Elks were the 12th team Turney took to a state tournament. He has the distinction of taking both a 6A (Enid) and a Class B (Burlington and Medford) to state as well as the Medford girls.
“It takes good players to get there,’’ Turney said.
They also were smart — Burlington won the state academic championship four years in a row and won seven in Turney’s 16 years at Burlington.
“I hope my players have learned more than just basketball from me,’’ Turney said. “When you’re on the court, you’re a competitor. When you’re off the court, you’re a person and being a good person is a lot more important than being a basketball player. I hope I have been a good role model for them and impacted their lives where they can be successful after high school.’’
Turney said his biggest thrill was coaching his daughters with Medford in 2002 when the Lady Birds reached the state semifinals, getting to play at the State Fair Arena twice. Robyn was his assistant.
“That’s something I’ll always remember ... getting to play in the Big House twice with my daughters,’’ Turney said.
While he was a small school coach at heart, he did enjoy his five years at Enid, thanks to assistants such as Floyd Pollet, Ky Wilkens and Scott Raper.
“They shared in the teaching,’’ Turney said. “It made coaching a lot of fun.’’
He has seen a lot of changes in coaching.
“A lot of people don’t understand what you see on the sidelines is a very minimal part of coaching,’’ he said. “They spend more time with you than they do their parents. It’s important you are a good role model. You spend more time with some of their off-the-court problems than you do with basketball sometimes.’’
He coached nine All-Staters. Twenty-one of his players earned college scholarships.
Most of the coaches he broke in with have retired. He joked he and Cherokee’s Matt Guffy were the only returning coaches in the Cherokee Strip this year.
“I developed a lot of friendships over the past 30-plus years,’’ he said. “It’s a fraternity that supports each other. We have shared a lot of things such as scouting reports. We’ll still be friends, but I won’t be in contact as much.’’
But one likely will be able to see Turney at a Pond Creek-Hunter or Kremlin-Hillsdale girls game.
“I’m Tasha and Tana’s dad now instead of coach Turney,’’ Turney said. “I have a ton of good memories.’’쇓