Burlington honors former coach with 'Randy Turney Court'
by Michael Swisher (@michaelswisher)
11/21/2019 8:57:38 AM
posted in: Articles | 5,507 views

For years and years, Burlington basketball players ran up and down the court at the demand of a man named Randy Turney.

From now on, they’ll be running all over that name.

The Burlington Public Schools gym now is home to “Randy Turney Court,” a fact that will be cemented - or floored - during a ceremony Friday night when the Elks basketball teams host Buffalo.

“It’s definitely an honor,” said Turney. “I don’t really know if I deserve this or not.”

Just about everyone else disagrees.

“If there was one person who should have the Burlington court named after them, it’s 1,000 percent him,” said Garrett Butler, one of the dozens of former players who supported the measure to name the court in his honor.

“Nobody has done more for Burlington, especially for athletics and probably for the entire school, than him.”

Nestled just a few miles south of Kansas in northwest Oklahoma, Burlington became the third stop in Turney’s hall of fame coaching career in 1982.

He started out at Drummond in 1977 and won 57 games in three years before claiming 37 victories in two years at Dover.

The next 10 years were spent coaching the Elks as he guided them to a 213-74 record and reached state four times.

The 1990 Burlington Elks finished as the Class B runner-up.

“I’d say that was the highlight of his first tenure at Burlington, but my sister and I were both born during that time, so it was a close second,” said Tasha Turney Diesselhorst, now the women’s coach at Northwestern Oklahoma State University, when addressing the board of education earlier this fall.

Making much of that career trek with Turney was Joe Feely, a hall of famer in his own right on the girls side of the sport.

Photo by Bonnie Vculek/Enid News & Eagle

“We were together at Drummond and at Dover and at Burlington,” recalled Feely. “In those years, we had a lot of good times. We had a lot of time to talk about our games, what went right, what went wrong.

“And the playoffs were always special. We had a lot of good times together. They sure outweighed the bad.”

Turney eventually left Burlington for a five-year stint in large-school basketball as he coached Enid from 1992-97, won 67 games and even got the Plainsmen to state in 1995.

His coaching career became a true family affair for the next eight years as Turney coached boys and girls at Medford from 1997-2002.

The girls teams averaged more than 22 wins a season with Robyn by his side as his assistant.

It was there that he coached Tasha through her high school career. She was a senior and Tana a freshman when the Lady Cardinals reached the 2002 Class A semifinals.

His boys teams at Medford averaged 21 wins a season.

David Zachary, now the superintendent at Granite, was his boys’ assistant for each of those five seasons.

“For me, a veteran coach of 15 years, it was astounding at what I learned from him in the five years we were together,” Zachary said. “I only wished I would have known what he taught me when I started all those years ago.”

After the 2002 campaign, Tasha went on to a career at Oklahoma Christian while the rest of the Turneys ventured to Cherokee for the next three years.

Finally in 2005, after 27 years and more than 650 career wins, Turney called an end to his career.

Or so he thought.

Feely’s own path had led him back to Burlington as the principal and, in 2007, the boys basketball position was open.

He dialed up his old friend Randy Turney.

“I called to see if he was interested and he was,” Feely said.

Turney un-retired in 2007 to come back to Burlington, the place he called home for a decade.

“There is no doubt in my mind that he wouldn’t have come out of retirement for just any coaching job,” Tasha said in her statement to the board of education. 

“Burlington was special.”

Turney said the people of Burlington had the same level of expectations from their own children that he did and that was one of the allures of the job…again.

“It’s just the expectations of the community,” he said “The work ethic. The kids aren’t afraid to put in the extra time whatever they’re doing whether it’s FFA or band or sports. 

“That comes from the expectations of the parents and the community.”

Turney spent another six seasons on the sidelines. His Elks won 131 more games and reached state each of the last three seasons.

Butler was on the first two of those.

“There’s no reason we should have been as good as we were,” said Butler, who went on to a playing career at Southern Nazarene University and is now a CPA in Oklahoma City while living in Edmond.

“He got every single ounce of ability out of every single player he had.”

Turney’s demands of his players went beyond the court.

His teams won seven academic state championships throughout his career, including each of the last four years at Burlington.

“He was good for the program, good for discipline,” said Feely. “He made the job as a principal easy because you never had a problem from the basketball boys, which was a majority of the boys in school. He kept a tight rein on them.”

Turney’s daughter said the “old school” mentality was blended with a genuine care for his student-athletes.

“The red face, loud yell and thundering stomp - all trademarks of his - just show one side of Coach Turney,” Tasha said. “The other side is a man that is a teacher of life as well as basketball; a man that loves his kids and would do anything to help them succeed on and off the court.”

For Turney, it was just what he was supposed to do.

“I told my kids that it was my job to make them better than what they ever thought they could be,” he said. “I demanded they put in extra time on the court and in getting good grades.’

Butler is just one of his success stories.

“Just as much as people see him demanding a lot from us on the court, it was a similar demand in our everyday life,” he said. “It was much more important to him that we do the same away from the court.

“Any success his past players have had, I’d say he’s directly had something to do with it.”

Both of Zachary’s children played the better part of their careers for Turney.

“My kids have the utmost respect for Randy and consider him and Robyn as another set of parents that were more interested in them being good people as well as athletes,” Zachary said.

“Randy and Robyn taught much more than basketball, or any other sport; they taught our kids how they should live as a servant to God and their fellow man.

In all, Turney went 344-118 at Burlington as he won 74.5 percent of his games. He has an overall career mark of 783-290 (.730). That includes 610-245 in 31 years as a boys coach and 173-45 in eight seasons on a girls’ bench.

He’s won numerous coach of the year honors and was inducted into the Oklahoma Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2013.

Turney never coached a team to a state championship, but he was right there when each of his daughters hoisted the gold ball as coaches: Tasha at Pond Creek-Hunter in 2014 and Tana at Kremlin-Hillsdale in 2017.

He follows both of his daughters at their current positions and is always there with the knowledgeable advice that comes from three-plus decades of coaching, whether it’s Tasha at NWOSU or Tana at Chisholm.

All the while, he still has a thumb on Burlington athletics.

Not only does he still teach junior high math there, but he’s also the athletic director.

His family, former players, former and current colleagues and pretty much the entire town of Burlington will be there Friday night to honor him.

“It’s never one of your goals for something like this to happen when you get started,” he said. “It just sort of happens, I guess.”

Hundreds upon hundreds of others will tell you it’s happening to exactly the right person.

“Randy Turney bleeds purple,” Tasha said. “He loves this little town and the people in it.”

Add a Comment