A 31-year coaching career that has taken him from Sand Springs to Mangum and other stops in between is now taking Mike Whaley to the Oklahoma Coaches Association Hall of Fame.
Whaley will be part of an 11-member class inducted into the Hall of Fame in July.
Whaley’s football coaching career began as an assistant at Sand Springs in the late 1970s. From there, he had was the head coach at Mangum and an assistant Southwestern Oklahoma State in Weatherford before becoming the Blanchard head coach in 1986. He finished his coaching at Westmoore, first as an assistant, then serving as the head coach from 2000-2009, at which point he joined the OSSAA.
As an assistant director for the OSSAA, Whaley oversees officiating, and fall and spring baseball, along with helping with eligibility and hardships.
When he looks at the list of men and women in the Oklahoma Coaches Association Hall of Fame, Whaley is taken aback to know that his name will soon join them.
The Hall of Fame is an unbelievable honor. One I don’t know that I ever thought about when I was starting in coaching, or considered it something that would be achievable. I was very fortunate, because my junior-high coaches, Jerry Minihan and Darold Ritchie, they’re Hall of Fame coaches. My high school coach, Harold Park, a Hall of Fame coach. So I was coached by guys who were that quality. When you look at the people who are in there, it’s very humbling to think that your name is next to their names. I don’t know if I can even describe what it means.
I practiced football a lot at Southwestern. I didn’t actually get to play very much. I was a professional practicer there for a few years.
We played for a national championship there in 1977. Played in a short-lived bowl game called the Apple Bowl that was played at the Kingdome in Seattle, Wash. We played Abilene Christian in the finals, and they beat us. But it was quite an experience to go to the Kingdome. We had a lot of guys that stood around and watched the game on the big screen. Unfortunately, they were on the field watching it while it was going on. Abilene got after us pretty good that day.
I started off at the Naval Academy. I thought I wanted to teach and coach, and the Navy said that was fine, except I would get to do five years of something else first, then they’d bring me back to the shore and let me teach and coach. And at that time, when you’re 19 or 20 years old, you think five years is like 50. So my high school coach had a friend who was coaching at Southwestern and I was able to go there. And that enabled me to get into teaching and coaching.
I was always fascinated by coaches. I grew up with a teacher. My mom was an elementary teacher. I’ve always been highly interested in school, for whatever reason, but mainly because it was the place we went to play games.