Brad Thrash's bucket list just got a little bit shorter.
The high school basketball coach always wanted to take a boys team and a girls team to state in the same year.
Thursday, he will achieve that life goal.
Thrash has gotten the Cheyenne/Reydon boys and girls all the way to state. Both teams open play Thursday, the first day of the small-school state tournaments. Keep winning, and it could make for quite the hectic weekend for Thrash.
Of course, this is what he signed up for.
“I wanted to do it,” Thrash said of coaching both the boys and the girls. “They didn't have to twist my arm very hard.”
There are always a few small-school coaches who, for reasons ranging from small budgets to late vacancies, oversee the boys and the girls.
Some do it grudgingly.
Coaching both teams is what he wanted to do, though it hasn't always been easy. There are challenges — this week brought a new, frozen one — but Thrash knew what he was getting into.
A longtime small-school coach, Thrash coached boys and girls at the same time previously in his career on a couple occasions. During an 11-year stint at Dover, he coached both for five years, then coached both at Hennessey for two years. He was never able to get both boys and girls to state at the same time, though.
Not that he was unsuccessful. Thrash won four state titles coaching the Dover girls, and just a year ago, he won another state championship coaching the Cheyenne boys.
It was during those playoffs a year ago that Thrash started to hear whispers that the girls team at the Roger Mills County school in far western Oklahoma might need a new coach and that he might be asked to take the job. He didn't have to think long about whether he wanted to coach both, but he did have to consider how it would work.
He agreed to coach both teams under one condition — he could hire his own assistant.
The school agreed, and Thrash hired his oldest son.
Devon Thrash was coaching the girls at Beaver High School. He liked his job and wasn't looking to leave, but the chance to coach with his dad was too good to turn down.
Devon was the only one of Thrash's four sons who he didn't coach in high school. But now, they are coaching together.
“It's just fun the camaraderie that we have,” Thrash said. “It's nice to have your family back around and enjoy the whole thing with them.”
Father and son see the game the same way, too. Their philosophies are cut from the same cloth.
“So, we can do things without having to worry about stuff,” Thrash said.
That means one less thing to fret because even though Thrash wanted to coach both teams, there are challenges. Both teams practice during the last period of the school day, so Thrash takes one team in the main gym and Devon takes the other team to the practice gym. Then after an hour and a half, the team in the practice gym comes into the main gym and Thrash puts them through another hour or so of practice.
But then on Mondays and Thursdays, Devon has junior high games to coach. And on Wednesdays, the kids have to leave early because it's church night.
“It gets kind of hectic every once in awhile,” Devon said, “but most of the time, it flows pretty smooth.”
Game planning has been a challenge, too. Finding time to watch video and scout opponents isn't always easy when you don't leave the gym until after the sun goes down.
This week brought a new challenge — a blizzard.
Cheyenne got upward of a foot of snow, closing school and altering practice. The teams didn't practice Monday but managed to get back in the gym Tuesday and Wednesday after snow plows dug out the streets and roads.
And the snow hasn't been all bad. Thrash has had more time to watch opponents' game film.
“I think the Lord may have blessed us,” he said, laughing.
Both Cheyenne teams bring a 23-6 record and a top-10 ranking into the Class A state tournament. The girls knocked off top-ranked Okarche at the buzzer to advance to state while boys beat Okarche by seven to make history. Never before had both teams from Cheyenne made state in the same year.
What if both manage to win a gold ball?
Thrash would become only the second coach in Oklahoma high school history to lead a boys and girls team to state titles in the same season. Tom Heidebrecht did it at Fort Towson in 1972, but despite the occasional coach bringing two teams to state in the same year, no one else has done the double.
Thrash is friends with Heidebrecht, and they chatted before the season. Heidebrecht said he was pulling for Thrash to join him in the two-fer club.
“I hope you get to do that,” he told Thrash. “It's incredible.”
Even if both of his teams don't win titles, Thrash hasn't regretted his decision to coach two teams. He relished working alongside his son. He enjoyed coaching both squads. But he still wants to win two titles this weekend.
That's the next thing to cross off his bucket list.
Jenni Carlson: Jenni can be reached at (405) 475-4125. Like her at facebook.com/JenniCarlsonOK, follow her at twitter.com/jennicarlson_ok or view her personality page at newsok.com/jennicarlson.