EDMOND — Upon being approved by the school board as Edmond North's new boys basketball coach — its fourth in as many years — Steven Goss' first order of business was to try putting his new players' minds at ease.
The Huskies gathered Tuesday morning to be introduced to another coach pledging long-term loyalty.
“You've heard this speech four times,” Goss told the Huskies' seniors-to-be.
“But I want to promise you guys who are sophomores: You're not going to hear it four times.”
The new coach saw smiles — the first small step in building trust with kids who have heard it all before.
“I know that felt good to hear,” said Edmond North athletic director Tom Snider. “I think they believed him because of the way he said it.”
Who could blame the players for being slow to trust? Last month, Quinn Wooldridge resigned after one 5-18 season at Edmond North.
But Goss' recent experience makes him a seemingly perfect fit for the program. In 2009, he became Haskell's fifth coach in five years.
Last month, in his third season on the job, he took the Haymakers to their first state tournament since 1991.
“The biggest thing is you have to embrace the kids,” Goss said. “You have to show them that you care about them.”
Goss' ability to develop those relationships at Haskell is what made him attractive to Mike Nunley, Edmond's district athletic director.
But Nunley and Snider also stressed to Goss in interviews the importance of his committing to Edmond North long term. Goss will be the sixth coach to lead the Huskies since 2006.
“I asked him two or three times, ‘You're sure you're not coming and then heading back east?'” Snider said. “He said he wants to raise his family here.”
For Nunley, he just hopes the two basketball hires he made Tuesday — Lenny Hatchett at Edmond Santa Fe being the other — are his last for a while.
Nunley has hired five of the district's six current boys and girls basketball coaches. Four of those hires have come in the last two years.
In total, Nunley has hired a stunning 11 basketball coaches in his eight years as Edmond's AD.
Last spring, Dandy Peeler and Karlie Free were hired at Edmond Memorial and Edmond North, respectively, to replace more long-term girls coaches.
“I hope we've done a good job of getting good people and good coaches,” Nunley said. “And I hope we continue to do so.
“I'd just like to have four or five years off.”
Goss, a Muskogee native, is adamant that he's in it for the long haul at Edmond North. He was set to practice with his new team Tuesday afternoon and host an evening parent meeting.
“(Administrators) wanted someone who was as passionate about the growth and future of Edmond North basketball as they were,” Goss said. “They want someone who will grow the program long-term, and that's who I plan on being.”