CHICKASHA — Oklahoma Christian Academy basketball coach Elzie Clark does the same thing for just about every game, and he doesn't plan on altering his routine.
After the girls game is complete, he'll change his shirt and tie and get ready to go back out to coach the boys.
“It's just something I do. There's no real reason as to why I do it,” Clark said. “I just want to remind myself that it's a different game.”
Clark doesn't need any reminders about how different this season has been. He's been the man in charge of the boys program for the last 11 years. But this season he's added another title: girls head coach.
While Clark has held down the fort at OCA when it comes to boys basketball, the girls coaching position has been a revolving door. The Eagles have had five girls coaches in Clark's tenure manning the boys.
He didn't need the extra responsibilities. He didn't need to give himself any less free time than he already had. But he felt obligated to the kids, and he knew he had great assistants to help out.
“When you're a small school like we are (Class A), you don't just coach these kids,” Clark said. “You see them every day in class. I teach Bible at the school and have watched these girls grow up. I wanted to bring that passion and pride.”
With the new job title has come some challenges and some unintentionally funny moments.
Clark said there was a time he's given the wrong scouting report to a particular team. Or there was another time he was calling out an offensive set, but it was to the wrong team. He said he just has to remind himself sometimes and shrug it off.
“Coach has us prepared for everything,” boys senior Josh Bivens said. “He wants us to be successful and pushes us. He's taught us how to cherish our experiences. And when he cares, he goes all-in.”
The transition hasn't come without its obstacles, though. The boys have had a hard time replacing stud Hans Thun from last year and entered the Grady County Tournament at USAO at 4-8.
Clark said the girls are steadily improving and are 6-6. With only two seniors and six freshmen on the roster, Clark said he is excited about the future of the program.
“I'm not going to lie because I was a little nervous about coach Clark taking over for the girls, too,” senior guard Kayla Yager said. “But he's done a great job. He's really preached togetherness as a team. That's helped build our relationships on and off the court.”
In its fourth year in the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association, OCA is still searching for its first state tournament appearance.
Clark said he's not sure if that will come this year, but he knows he plans on being on the bench for it.
“I'm stubborn enough to keep looking for new challenges,” Clark said. “I'm reminded of what I was told when I was younger. You can go to a program and be a part of the program. Or you can go to a program and be the program.
“I've had chances to leave, but I won't do it. Being the girls coach is just another challenge. I want to show that success can happen here.”