By Chris Parsons / Staff Writer
Larry Anderson has done a lot of things in his 24-year stint as head coach of the Whitley County Lady Colonels.
His teams have played for region and district titles and have faced some of the best competition tin the state. He’s seen countless players come and go and lost games he thought his team should have won and vice versa.
Anderson is set to retire after this year and as he gets set to start his final season as head coach of the Lady Colonels, the one thing Anderson said he hasn’t done is change the way he does things or what he believes in when it comes to coaching young athletes.
“I hope that is one thing people say about me when I’m finished, that I never jeopardized what I believed in for any reason,” Anderson said. “I have never compromised my morals for any reason or for any one person and to be honest, it has probably cost me in the long run, but I believe in doing what’s right.”
Despite the fact he’s set to change his lifestyle at the end of this basketball season, Anderson said he hasn’t gone about the beginning of this season any different than he has in the past.
“I really haven’t had time to think about things that much and it’s probably best,” Anderson said. “It’s just been practice as usual and trying to get our kids ready for the first game of the season.
“I know things will sink in once I sit down and think about it eventually, but it’s really been business as usual for everybody,” he added.
The fact that the Lady Colonels are expected to be near the top of the heap this season when it comes to the 13th Region may soften the blow to a point for Anderson. He said he had originally planned to retire at the end of last season when his daughter, Sierra Anderson, had finished up her senior season. For some reason, he said he changed his mind.
He was adamant that the way the 2011-12 season ended, no mater how tough it was to take, had no bearing on his decision.
“I really can’t really tell you why I decided to come back for one more season, it’s just something I had to do for my own personal reasons” Anderson said. “It wasn’t the fact that we lost in the region tournament because we had lost tough games before. North Laurel just played a good game that night and we didn’t”
“I’ll admit that was one of the toughest losses I’ve ever taken because it really hurt my kids,” he added. “But for some reason I just felt like I wasn’t ready, whether it was voicing it or just giving it up, I wasn’t ready for it to be over. I’ve come to peace with it now and there’s no ifs ands or buts about it”
Anderson said he has seen a seen a lot of things change throughout the course of his career, many of which he didn’t think twice about. He did say that the talent level has been raised quite a bit since he started coaching.
“I just think the kids are much more talented now than they were because the kids are developing much faster than they used to,” he said. “Used to if you had one or two good kids, you could be pretty competitive, but anymore if you are not deep it’s really going to catch up with you.
“I think another thing is that coaches are more aware of match-ups and the strategic part of the game,” he added.
On the negative side of change, Anderson said he said has seen some things that he wasn’t very fond of as well. He said the fact that so many options have been made available when it comes to sports, kids don’t seem to be as gung ho as they used to be.
“I think the thing I’ve seen deteriorate more than anything is loyalty to the team or the coaches and the sport in general,” Anderson said. “It used to be it wasn’t a question of whether kids were playing or not, they just enjoyed being on the team and if they played was just an added bonus.
“Anymore the first question kids ask is are they going to be able to dress varsity and then, will they get to play any,” he added. “If the answer is no, you can pretty much bank on them not playing. That tells you in a lot of cases that kids are more about themselves rather than the team.”
While he has seen some impressive results as a coach, no matter what happens this season on the basketball court, Anderson said nothing will come close in comparison when he speaks of his fondest memories as a coach. Surprisingly, they don’t have anything to do with the score of a game.
“The most important thing to me is when I see my players later on in life and what they have accomplished,” he said. “When they come back around and have a role in the program or just come to visit and share memories, those are the most special things to me.
“I love basketball and I always have loved it and what it does for people in the long run,” he added. “I’ve coached because of my love for the game and even after I’m done, I’ll still have that love for basketball.”