As is my norm, here are some excerpts of material that didn’t make it into Thursday’s feature on Capitol Hill head coach Donny Tuley and his efforts to reach players over the years.
The first interesting tidbit is this background info on Tuley’s early years.
In 1977, Tuley’s collegiate basketball career ended after two years at East Central. The 5-9 point guard knew he didn’t have the talent to play at the next level, but he definitely wasn’t going back to work in the oil fields or farming in his tiny hometown of Elmore City. The fiery, passionate young man with a wealth of basketball IQ was determined to make it big as a coach.
“My goal was to go as high up the ladder as I could,” Tuley recalls. “I wanted to coach in college or get even further on than that.”
That ties into this next sidebar, which was hardest part to leave out – by far - and was one of the more amazing facts about Tuley. In the story, I mention that, over the years, Tuley turned down several opportunites to fulfill his college coaching goal so he could stay at Capitol Hill.
Donny Tuley never completely gave up on coaching college hoops. While he passed up several opportunities in the mid-90s so he could stay close to and take care of his ailing parents, another door soon opened that allowed him the best of both worlds. For the past 10 years, Tuley has been an assistant coach at Redlands Community College while continuing his work at Capitol Hill.
You read that right. Not only is Tuley the head coach of a high school basketball team, he also is an assistant coach in college. Talk about a balancing act. Tuley often will leave his high school practice, take a car-load of players home, and then head directly to Redlands to help coach a game that night.
“It’s difficult (balancing the two), but the guys I work for at Redlands have given me a schedule, and I can work around their schedule,” Tuley said. “And it’s worked out quite well for us.”
At Redlands, Tuley has been a part of several successful teams, including a national champion in 2002, and has coached players like former OU standout Taj Gray.
Of course, another tough choice was picking and choosing which stories to tell. And my goodness were there stories. It seems like every person I talked to had a favorite memory of Tuley, or a touching moment to share, or a sob story to tell. Possibly one of the saddest was the following told to me by Tuley’s wife, Sherry.
Several years ago, a former player of Tuley’s named Fasha Norman was killed. The point guard was attending Langston, but his body was found in a Dallas park. At the funeral, Norman’s parents asked Donny to speak.
“Now Donny’s a very non-emotional kind of person,” Sherry said. “But at this kid’s funeral, he just broke down. He had to stop several times during this speech to compose himself.”
Unfortunately, this blog probably couldn’t hold all of the Tuley stories I heard, but I’ll close it off on a positive note. In the main story, I started off talking about the life struggles of senior forward Remy Boswell and his mother. What I wasn’t able to get to, however, was how much things have improved for the Boswell family.
Remy’s mom now has a job teaching in the Oklahoma City Public Schools system. Because of that – for the first time ever – Remy has a washer and dryer where he lives. He also believes his family’s story is a testimony, and he has a new motto for life: “The struggles are over.”