For the nearly 30 years that Charlie Heatly served as its high school's head coach, Lindsay was the epicenter of girls basketball.
The Leopards were regulars at the 6-on-6 state tournament, winning two titles under Heatly and finishing second three more times.
And even as 6-on-6 gave way to 5-on-5 around the country, the teams that still played the sport flocked to Lindsay to be a part of Heatly's summer camps.
Thursday, for the first time since the team moved to 5-on-5, the Lindsay girls return to the state tournament. Lindsay opens the Class 3A tournament against Sulphur at 7 p.m. at State Fair Arena.
Heatly, who turns 79 next week, has been the DJ for state tournament since 1991.
“Everybody knows the music man here and the tradition of 6-on-6 Lindsay girls basketball,” Lindsay coach Jon Jacques said. “When they switched to 5-on-5 in 1995, they haven't had near as much success as we've had in the past and that's been a door we've been trying to kick down.”
And Heatly will have the best seat in the house.
The draw played right into Heatly's hands.
“It brings back really good memories back to when we used to get into the state tournament almost every year,” Heatly said. “And the girls get to play their first game in The Big House. That doesn't happen very often.”
Only one of the six state tournament brackets that start Thursday around the metro area will play the first round at State Fair Arena. If the Leopards were playing elsewhere, Heatly would still be at State Fair Arena running the sound controls.
“I stay with the music,” Heatly said. “I feel like I have a job to do and have to do that for the OSSAA. I'd have been very anxious finding out what the score was every two or three minutes though.”
The same tunes he spins at State Fair Arena—“Rocky Top” and “Sweet Georgia Brown” among them—play at Lindsay.
“We always tell the girls, ‘Hey, we're just preparing for what Charlie's going to play for us in The Big House,” Jacques said.
Heatly has been playing music at Lindsay home games since he retired in 1986. A few years later, when Bill Self Sr. took over as the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association's executive secretary, he asked Heatly to play the music for the state tournament.
When he started, Heatly brought over the Lindsay tradition of playing “Oklahoma” before games.
That started at Lindsay in the early 70s, when Heatly would blare the song during camps as a call to the players practicing on the tennis courts and in the old gym at Lindsay to head back to the main gym.
“They kids from Louisiana, Texas and Arkansas didn't appreciate hearing that song much but the Oklahomans did,” Heatly said. “I feel like that's patriotic to play that song before the games. It's something unique to Oklahoma.”
And the national anthem for most games is the same, unless someone's there to sing it or play it live. He uses a recording of the anthem by Blanchard native Jody Miller.
“I got acquainted with her and found that national anthem and thought it was perfect,” Heatly said.
A season ticket holder for the Thunder, OU men's basketball and OU women's basketball, Heatly estimates he sees around 170 basketball games per season.
This year, there will be none more enjoyable than welcoming his Lindsay team into the state tournament.
“They've been so close in the past, coming just one game away or one shot away and things just haven't fallen our way a few times,” Heatly said. “The town is really excited about getting to come back.”