ENID, Okla. —
It’s with personal sadness Randy Turney is retiring from coaching after 34 years at the helm with stops at Drummond, Dover, Burlington, Enid, Medford, Cherokee and Burlington again.
Turney’s career coincides with much of mine at the Enid News & Eagle. He started at Drummond in 1977-78, and I came here in June 1978.
I remember him as a young coach at Drummond. More importantly, he remembers me as a young sports writer.
Since we were born six days apart, I always consider him a young coach.
I’m grateful for him, though, that he goes out on top, having taken a seven-man Burlington team to the Class B state tournament.
He had as much fire, if not more, in the last game that I covered him than he did the first time I covered him so many years ago.
It wouldn’t be Randy Turney if he wasn’t stomping his foot or getting into the face of a player during a timeout or stoppage in play.
The late John Clausing once said his favorite part about being Enid’s public address announcer was hearing Turney talk to his team and intensity he showed.
That was Randy Turney, the competitor.
Turney, the person, cared deeply about those kids. He might yell at those kids during a game, but he would brag on them afterwards. Brandon Gosselin and Lane Newlin of this year’s senior class, he said, were as good as leaders as he ever had.
He was prouder of Burlington winning the state academic championship the last four years, than he was the Elks reaching the state tournament three straight times. His job, he felt, was not just to produce good basketball players, but good people.
When the game was over, it was over.
There were times you could hear Turney outside the locker room when talking to his team after a game. After he stepped out, he was calm and collected, never taking out any frustration he might have had during the game on others.
The respect for Turney could be seen at the area losers bracket finals.
Mulhall-Orlando fans complained about Turney getting out of the coaches box, especially when Panthers coach Alex Beene was called for a technical foul.
But official Mark Martin said Turney was just shouting out instructions to his players and not criticizing officials as Beene was.
Beene himself said Turney’s coaching was the key to the Elks’ 56-38 victory.
“Their zone was incredible,’’ he said. “That man (Turney) has been teaching that zone longer than I’ve been alive. It’s tough to beat a man who teaches an incredible zone.’’
Turney was a promoter of northwest Oklahoma basketball. He would be the one to call to say a coach (Brent Rousey’s 600th career win) reached a milestone or a player had made an individual honor, even if it wasn’t one of his own.
When EHS basketball announcer Steve Kasey of KGWA died, Turney was on the phone to me with remembrances of the good times. He made sure Kasey was recognized at the Cherokee Strip Tournament for his contributions to high school basketball.
He made sure credit was given to players and assistants before himself.
On a personal note, he boosted my ego a time or two, for which I’m very grateful.
He showed small-school coaches could win at the 6A level when he took the Plainsmen to the 1995 state tournament.
He didn’t inherit a program with riches. EHS was 8-14 and 5-18 the two years before his arrival and was 6-17 his first year, losing to Edmond Memorial 89-37 in the regional tournament.
He followed that with seasons of 14-9 and 15-9, before going to Medford. That wasn’t a surprise because his heart was small-town. When EHS was off, he could be seen at small school games.
It’s not surprising he’s getting out because of family. He was more excited about his daughter Tasha’s Pond Creek-Hunter girls reaching state for the first time than he was himself going for the 12th.
He had a dream day at the Cherokee Tournament when Tasha’s girls won the championship and daughter Tana’s Kremlin-Hillsdale girls won the consolation title. His 600th career victory in the boys’ third-place game was a distant third to him in importance, but it meant a lot more since Tasha and Tana were there.
He had gotten out of coaching for two years to follow Tasha at Oklahoma Christian and Tana at NOC Enid. His biggest thrill was taking Medford’s girls to the state tournament in 2002 when his two daughters were teammates.
Of course, the one game, he may not attend is Kremlin-Hillsdale against Pond Creek-Hunter. Turney made sure he was out scouting when his two daughters faced off this year.
His wife, Robyn, was always at his side as both an assistant and a scorekeeper. She was just grateful Burlington’s boys were playing in the afternoon and Pond Creek-Hunter’s girls were at night.
“God is good,’’ she said.
So are the Turneys. They will be missed.
Campbell is a News & Eagle sports writer.