In his second to last regular season home game last Saturday, parents, players, alums, fans and friends celebrated the career of 19-year Lady Rebel Coach Randy Salyers. For those who missed it, I encourage you to be there this Friday in his final regular season home game.
|Photo Credit: Carpe-Imago/Chris Zollner|
For me, Coach Salyers has been everything from a coach to a middle school P.E. teacher to a friend, and, like many, I have never really known Lady Rebel basketball without him.
My relationship with Coach Salyers began around 1998. As a sixth grader, many of my peers and I stepped up to the play with the middle school basketball team. While Coach was already working at the high school level, it was obvious he had great interest in the up and coming Lady Rebs and developing them. (I also ran track for the first time this year and, for those who don't know, he was the track Coach in those days and oversaw numerous state contenders and even state champions.)
|Presenting Coach with a quilt made of |
Lady Rebel Tshirts from throughout his career.
1998 would have only been two years into Coach Salyers' career with the Lady Rebs, but that detail was unbeknownst to a youngster like me. By the time I was in eighth grade, several of my classmates were dressing on his varsity squad that won the 12th Region tournament and competed in the KHSAA Sweet Sixteen. I had no idea I was riding in on the building of something historical for Casey County sports. I'm not talking about the program's first trip to the state tournament, but Coach Salyers' career that would see so many accomplishments and make Casey County a regular top contender in the 12th Region.
I did not finish my high school career as a basketball player for Coach. I gave it up my junior year to focus my efforts on running, but having dedicated so many years--summers included--to the basketball life, I could not so easily walk away. You see, Coach Salyers has a way of creating a family out of his basketball team and leaving that was impossible for me, so I stayed on as a manager for the next two years and happily saw my classmates capture back-to-back district titles in 2003 and 2004.
It's a rare exception that a parent is completely OK with someone besides themselves yelling at their daughter and it's a rare exception that a young lady can handle a grown man yelling at her, but, again, Coach Salyers has a way of making his team a family. In a family you genuinely care about each other and have a special understandings and every player under Coach Salyers understood how much he wanted to see us thrive on the court. We've all seen Coach Salyers yell at his players pretty intensely during games (that or we've experienced it first hand AS one of those players!) But Coach also always has his players' backs. He is the kind of coach that made you want to work your tail off for him, and when you did that, he would go to battle for you. If you were at last Saturday's Mercer County game, you saw that first hand.
Aside from being my coach, in both track and basketball, Coach Salyers has been a dear friend in my years since graduation, and like many I will sorely miss his presence in the county when he is gone, but could not be happier for him during this change in his life.
|Two of my good friends whom I played ball with under Coach.|
I still have not wrapped my head around a season of Lady Rebel basketball without Coach Salyers. The girls playing today were not even alive when his career began 19 years ago. But, without a doubt, girls' ball at CCHS will continue and it will likely continue to thrive on the foundation Coach Salyers spent so much of his life building.For that, he will never, ever be forgotten in Casey County. I like to think that one day my daughter, born only four months ago, will also know of Coach Randy Salyers' reign over the Lady Rebels and the name he brought to the program across the 12th Region.