The official program for the National Junior College Athletic Association’s women’s basketball tournament listed the years of service for seven of the eight coaches who took their teams to the three-day event a few weeks ago in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. None of those seven were longtime veterans. Six years. Seven years. One year. None of those seven had even 10 years on the bench with their school.
For some reason, there was no listing of years for the coach of the Minnesota West Lady Jays, the two-year program out of Worthington, Minnesota. My uncle Mike Fury led the Lady Jays into the national tourney. It was his first appearance in nationals as coach at Minnesota West. His first appearance in 34 years on the bench. I’m not sure why the program didn’t list his years of tenure — perhaps Mike simply didn’t include the info or the person entering the data couldn’t believe anyone would last that long as coach at a community college. High school coaches last for 34 years. Coaches at four-year schools can last for 34 years. Rarely does a community college coach last for 34 years at one school. Monday, Mike made official what he’d known for awhile and what many of us in the family speculated about for months: The 2015 season was his last. My old boss in Worthington Doug Wolter wrote a really nice piece about Mike’s retirement announcement for the Daily Globe.