Remy Boswell's mother didn't have a job, and the two of them didn't have any place to sleep. They ended up in their 1997 Plymouth mini-van in the dark corner of a parking lot in Bethany, bundled up in blankets to stay warm. "It was scary,” said Remy, a senior basketball player at Capitol Hill. It was in rough times such as these, however, that Remy and his mother knew who they could count on: Capitol Hill basketball coach Donny Tuley. "Coach Tuley has always helped us out — finding an apartment … buying us stuff, if we needed it. He always fed, took care of us,” Remy said. "If you need something, he's always there. Always.” Tuley was the reason Remy wound up at Capitol Hill in the first place. With no dad around, Judy Boswell insisted on searching for a father figure for Remy in high school basketball. She found Tuley. For 27 years, Tuley has been that father figure and coach for the entire Capitol Hill boys basketball program. Tuley's teams have won 442 games, made 10 state tournaments and one state championship game. He's maintained the Redskins' only consistent sports program during decades of decline. But Tuley's resume on the court pales in comparison to what he has done off it. Ask any player, past or present, and they'll likely echo Remy. Tuley helped them stay in class. He provided discipline and order to their lives. He picked them up and dropped them off after practice. Tuley provided food or a place to sleep, or he found a college opportunity. With his strict, in-your-face coaching style and emphasis on academics, Tuley has given them all these things and so much more. "He's a one-of-a-kind coach,” senior forward Craig Woodside said. "He doesn't just coach you in basketball, he coaches you in life. He wants his players to succeed off the court.” When Tuley launched a nearly unintelligible tirade toward Woodside during the Port City Tournament championship game in Catoosa on Saturday, Woodside's quick response of "My fault, my fault, my fault,” might have seemed rather ordinary. What you don't see, however, is the amount of time Tuley has spent helping Woodside develop enough respect for authority. Woodside said without Tuley, he would likely have dropped out of school as a sophomore. "Because of Coach Tuley, I'm still in school. He helped me adjust to being spoken to and to respect authority … that's something that's really difficult for me,” said Woodside, who is now shooting for a college scholarship so he can achieve his real goal – a hotel management degree.
"She was making (church) phone calls even when she was in the hospital,” Donny said of Betty, who died in 2001. "Whatever needed to be done, she was always in doing it.”
He has needed people like his wife, who reluctantly puts up with his long hours away from home because she knows the job means virtually everything to him.
"It's his ministry. He sees these kids, and where we would view them as would-be gang-bangers and derelicts, he tries to teach them rules to live by,” Sherry Tuley said. "He's consumed by a desire to change their lives. It's an incredibly beautiful thing. Sometimes I get frustrated that he's rarely at home. But I understand the reason and the impact.”
And Tuley has needed people like assistant basketball and head track coach Dennis Giddens, who has passed up numerous coaching opportunities to stick with his old basketball buddy at Capitol Hill since 1985.
"Without him being there … he's a good role model and a good basketball guy,” Donny said. "Without him, I don't know if I would have been as successful.”
So while the young Donny couldn't imagine staying at Capitol Hill for 27 years, the 52-year-old Donny wouldn't have it any other way.
"It seems like every time I've helped somebody, I've been blessed,” Tuley said. "If I had to do it all over again — I wouldn't change a thing.”
Success on a different scaleWhen Tuley walked into the Capitol Hill Sports Arena in 1981, the 25-year-old was starting his fourth high school basketball coaching job in four years. Just working his way up the ladder to bigger and better things, he thought. Tuley never imagined that, more than a quarter of a century later, he still wouldn't have moved on to the fifth job. During his tenure at The Hill, he has turned down several college jobs — including an assistant position at San Jose State and the head position at Murray State in Tishomingo, where he played junior college ball. Last summer, he turned down the head athletic director position for the entire Oklahoma City Public Schools system. "That amazed me,” said Sherry Tuley, Donny's wife of 16 years. "He got emotional, and he is so unemotional. He said, ‘I don't want to leave my kids, not this group. I've had these kids since they were freshman, and I've got eight seniors. I want to see them through.'” As much passion as Tuley might have had for moving up in the coaching ranks, it's always been outweighed by his desire to help kids. And nowhere has that need been greater than Capitol Hill, which used to be one of Oklahoma's premier high schools. The last several decades, however, have brought a continuous economic decline around the school. Now, 99 percent of Capitol Hill students come from households with income so low that they qualify for reduced-price or free meals, according to the Oklahoma City Public Schools' Web site. The number was 78 percent six years ago. With each passing season, more and more players arrive in need of guidance, a father figure, discipline — anything. "If I hadn't played ball and hadn't met coach … honestly, the way my home life was at the time, I probably would have gotten mixed up with some bad people,” said Jeremy Compton, who played at Capitol Hill in the early 1990s. "If it wasn't for him, my life would have taken a much worse direction, for sure.”
Ring for the King of the HillAt the beginning of the season, several Capitol Hill players read in a newspaper that Tuley had been coaching for 27 years. With eight seniors returning from a team that made the state semifinals two years in a row, the players realized they were in a position to help the man who has helped them so much. "We would like to be the team that's 28-1 — the team that he remembers put our all in it and gave him his first ring,” Woodside said. "That's one of our team goals.” And players aren't the only ones with this goal on their minds. After being an assistant for 30 years at John Marshall and Oklahoma Christian School, Maurice Daniels didn't have to coach at Capitol Hill. But he came to help Tuley, his good friend. And he came to help The Hill get a title. "I've been blessed to have won nine (rings), and I'd like to see someone who works as hard as Donny does have a shot,” Daniels said. "If I can do anything to help — just a little bit to help, they don't need much — give them a little nudge, I'd like to see that happen. He's a Hall of Fame coach … I'd like to see him get that one state championship.” So as Remy Boswell stands in front of the trophy display in the foyer of the unique, domed Capitol Hill Sports Arena, he points to a large picture of the 1996-97 Redskins basketball team. That team lost Tuley's only state championship game to powerhouse Tulsa Washington. "This is the chance,” Remy said. "I look up here at this picture, and you see all those guys — that's us right there, but we still have the chance (to win state). We have so much talent, so much potential — we're hungry for it. We have so much passion, there's nothing holding us back. We're ready for it, this is the year.”
A group effortWhen asked about his contribution to Capitol Hill, Tuley quickly deflects praise. After all, Tuley says, he's probably too hard on the kids, and he couldn't have done it alone. Tuley has needed the help of people, like his mother. Betty Tuley taught him the importance of helping others through her lifetime involvement in the First United Methodist Church in Wynnewood.
For 27 years, Donny Tuley has been the father figure and coach for the Capitol Hill boys basketball program. Tuley's teams have won 442 games, made 10 state tournaments and one state championship game. He's maintained the Redskins' only consistent sports program during decades of decline. BY JOHN CLANTON, THE OKLAHOMAN
When Donny Tuley walked into the Capitol Hill Sports Arena in 1981, the 25-year-old was starting his fourth high school basketball coaching job in four years. Over a quarter of a century later, he still hasn't moved on to the fifth job. Last summer, he turned down the head athletic director position for the entire Oklahoma City Public Schools system.
Donny Tuley has won 442 games and taken teams to 10 state tournaments and one state championship game during his time at Capitol Hill. BY JOHN CLANTON, THE OKLAHOMAN