Laura Clay was “shocked” when she got the call in March that she'd be inducted into the Oklahoma Coaches Association Hall of Fame.
There were plenty of reasons for the Westmoore cross country and track coach's reaction. For one, she's still active as a coach. She also saw many other deserving coaches that haven't yet been inducted.
Another reason is even more surprising — only one woman had ever been inducted.
Nearly 400 coaches have been inducted into the hall but until Sunday, legendary Byng basketball coach Bertha Frank Teague was the only woman honored with induction.
Teague was inducted in 1970.
Sunday night at the Southern Hills Marriott in Tulsa, Clay became the second as the 2012 class was inducted.
“It's very humbling,” Clay said before the ceremony.
Other inductees Sunday night included Durant's David Brese, Tulsa Washington's Nate Harris, Stillwater's Richard Lemler, Wewoka's Jim Mathews, Chickasha's L.J. Powell, Thomas' Mike Tyson, Norman's Cotton Wade, Earlsboro's Jim Walling and Ardmore's Ted Younts. Southwestern Oklahoma State's George Hauser was also honored for distinguished service.
Clay was nominated by a pair of longtime colleagues and friends — Westmoore boys golf coach Brian Vaverka and former Westmoore football coach Mike Whaley, who is now at the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association.
Clay graduated from Moore High School in 1983 and has remained with the Moore school district ever since graduating from UCO.
Next month, she'll start her 25th year coaching, all but three have been spent as a head coach at Westmoore.
“I really believe it's the people that I've had the chance to work with that have kept me here,” Clay said. “The athletic director, John Burris, grew up with me. He's a few years older but used to play ball in our driveway. Our principal, Mark Hunt, is a longtime Moore guy.
“The family atmosphere at Westmoore makes it feel like home.”
After a standout running career at Moore that included four state championships, Clay knew she would keep running. She hadn't given much thought to teaching and coaching, though, and majored in accounting at UCO until she decided on a switch as a junior.
“I decided I couldn't sit still behind a desk all the time,” she said. “I had to do something different.
“And I've never regretted it ever since.”
Clay teaches weightlifting and health classes and has coached her Jaguars teams to two team titles and a handful of runner-up finishes.
“I totally thank God for everything,“ Clay said. “He put me on this path, gave me the ability to run and then put me into coaching.
“We don't have any children but maybe that's because he was hoping I might make a difference in somebody's life as a coach.”
Clay said she planned on coaching as long as she was healthy.
“When my husband decides to retire, we'll have to figure things out but I still love coaching and teaching,” she said.
Oklahoma Coaches Association All-State Games
Monday through Friday
8:30 a.m., Golf, Cherokee Hills Golf Club, Catoosa
6 p.m., Swimming, Jenks High School
4:30 p.m., Small Baseball, J.L. Johnson Stadium (ORU)
5:30 p.m., Tennis, Case Tennis Center (TU)
6 p.m., Small Volleyball, Bixby High School
7 p.m., Large Baseball, J.L. Johnson Stadium (ORU)
7:30 p.m., Large Volleyball, Bixby High School
7 p.m., Wrestling, Bixby High School
7 p.m., Small Girls Basketball, Mabee Center (ORU)
8:30 p.m., Large Girls Basketball, Mabee Center (ORU)
7 p.m., Small Boys Basketball, Mabee Center (ORU)
8:30 p.m., Large Boys Basketball, Mabee Center (ORU)
8 p.m., Football, Union Tuttle Stadium