Okarche girls basketball coach Cherie Myers had already started on the path to one career when she decided to pursue another. The change paid off for Myers, who has more than 700 wins and four state championships. She won her fourth Saturday night, when Okarche defeated Cheyenne/Reydon 59-47 in the Class A title game.
Myers started in Fairview, playing for legendary coach Don Rippetoe, before finishing her high school career at Kingfisher, where she played for another hall of fame coach in Joe Crabb. She eventually wound up playing at North Texas, where she made the decision to become a basketball coach. She's stayed in Kingfisher County for her entire coaching career, starting off at Dover, moving to Kingfisher where she won titles in 1989 and 2000, then moving on to Okarche, where she won titles in 2010 and 2013. Myers retired from teaching after the 2009 season but stayed on as coach with her daughter, Haley Mitchell, joining her.
I was in college and was in medical school my junior year and I decided I wanted to coach basketball. I called my parents and my dad said, ‘You have to do what makes you happy.' I think my mom fainted, although she wouldn't say that. I was playing college basketball and I just decided that I wasn't ready to give up the sport. I wasn't prepared to be done with it.
Playing for Joe Crabb in junior high and then for Don Rippetoe, I had great role models as coaches. When I called Coach Rippetoe to tell him I was going to be a head coach he said, ‘I wondered how long it would take for you to figure it out.'
He also told me, ‘When you have race horses, you're going into the Kentucky Derby. When you have nags, you're going to the state fair.' Having good players is definitely where you get the success.
You put your expectations on the talent you have. Some of my best years have been groups that probably played better than their talented indicated, teams that didn't make the state tournament but played beyond what was expected of them.
When I look back at the successes I've had, you have to look at it and say there's been a lot of luck involved in that. You're surrounded by great people — great players, great assistants, a great administration, a great community. All of those things are pieces to the pie. I'm very lucky and enjoy that success.
One of the biggest things I've learned is not to get overwhelmed with winning and losing. You get consumed with it, especially when you're young. You worry about what your record is or how you did that season. If you work hard, good things will happen. You look at each team, how they developed and take pride in that regardless of what the record is. Each team is capable of achieving so much.
My first coaching job was at Dover. I had looked around but I liked that area and liked that the county was so tough in basketball. Kingfisher, Lomega, Okarche — they've always had good teams. That was my home and I didn't want to go anywhere else.
I always wanted to coach my daughters and thoroughly enjoyed having that chance. My oldest daughter played for me at Kingfisher. She was more of a defensive specialist and a hard worker. My other daughter, Haley, played for me at Okarche and played on two state tournament teams. I enjoyed every minute of it.
Coaching with Haley, that's been a joy right there, first of all that she'd even want to. I tried to talk her out of it, but my husband said she was going to love it too. We're just enjoying every minute of it. It's been a blessing to be able to share this with her.
I've stayed in Okarche because there are good people here — good kids, hardworking kids and I ask a lot of them. I'm pretty hard to live with. I'm pretty strict. I have no reason to look anywhere else. As for how long I'll do this, I'm going to make it through today. When I retired and Haley decided to come coach at Okarche, I decided to look at it every year and evaluate things that way. I still love and care about basketball. That could change next year or tomorrow.