Last Thursday night wasn’t much different than many nights for Jimmy Young and Sam Young.
Jimmy’s Montgomery Central High boys team closed the night with a win over host Houston County.
The night began with Sam’s Houston County girls basketball team topping the visiting MCHS squad.
When the night was over, there was no extra fanfare, no confetti fell from the rafters and the two men only briefly spoke. And there wasn’t the plethora of media to see it like when two brothers recently coached their respective teams in the Super Bowl.
It was a father and son doing the thing they love, teaching the game of basketball to the young men and women under their watch.
“This is my 29th year here,” said Jimmy last Tuesday night after his Indians fell to Camden in the gym named for his father, James, and Clarence ‘Mr. Fred’ Thomas. “This is my home. I love this place and I really don’t know when I’ll quit coaching. I still like it and still want to do it, and as long as nothing happens I’ll keep doing it.
“I still have a lot of energy and I keep myself in good shape. I still have passion for the game and I love doing what I do. It’s stressful at times, but it’s a fun thing to do. I like working with kids and I’ve got a great bunch of coaches. It’s funny, all my assistant coaches played for me and they’re all winners and hate losing like I do. That’s what we’re trying to instill into our kids; you’ve got to be a good loser, but you’ve got to hate losing.”
Jimmy has tried to teach that lesson to his team all season.After going 0-11 in District 11-AA play and 6-18 overall, the Indians finally picked up their first league win Friday night.
With the District 11-AA Tournament ahead, Central’s first game is Wednesday against Waverly. Young could be pessimistic about his team’s chances. Instead he sounds like a coach who won the regular season title.
Sam learned everything he knew about basketball from Jimmy, who was inducted into the Murray State Athletics Hall of Fame in 1991 and learned everything from his father, also a MCHS basketball coach and principal who passed away in 2000.
Sam grew up watching his dad’s every game, then as a player on his father’s team and later as an assistant for a year. He took over the Houston County program in 2010 after working as an assistant boys basketball coach at Northwest for two seasons.
“I’ve learned a lot from him,” Sam said. “It was a great experience playing for and then working with him. He’s an outstanding coach and (has) done a lot for his community and the school he’s at.
“I learned a lot of things under him; how to be with kids, how to work with kids, the right way to teach kids and just the right things to do. That’s one thing about him, he always does the right thing and that’s something I’ve held to myself in trying to teach the kids right.”
Sam admits he never thought he’d become a girls basketball coach, now he can’t think of doing anything else.
“Mrs. (Linda) Jolley took the principal’s job here and when they had the opening she gave me the opportunity,” Sam said. “When I was younger, I always thought I’d coach boys. But now that I’ve coached girls, I just really enjoy it. We’ve got a great program going and I’ve got a great group of kids and I’m really enjoying it. The community support is here and it’s a great tradition. It’s just a good place to be as a teacher and a coach.”
Sam said he’s happy his dad was hard on him as a player, and it’s a blessing he has someone he can take advice from.
“We both bounce ideas off each other,” Sam said. “We’ll talk about what we’ve done and who we’ve played. When I have a question I can go ask him and he’ll even ask me what I think and that’s great. We have a relationship where to this day we still learn. He feels that way and I feel that way. We always want to try to improve as both teachers and coaches.”
Sam’s Lady Irish won a program-record third straight District 10-A regular season title after going 24-5 overall and 15-1 in 10-A.
Houston County is still seeking its first District 10-A tournament championship with him, which was last done in the 2005-06 season when it advanced to sectionals.
The Lady Irish start the quest for Sam’s first tournament title on Tuesday at 7 p.m. in a 10-A quarterfinal tournament game.
“I’m really proud of what he’s done at Houston County,” Jimmy said. “He’s a great young coach. He eats, sleeps, breathes and lives the game. He’s a good family man. My two grandchildren are the sweetest thing you’ve ever seen. He makes time for all of it and he’s done a fantastic job down there. His girls are loaded and are good. He’s a great young coach and I don’t care if he’s my son.”
One thing Jimmy does think is that Sam won’t completely follow in his footsteps.
Two Youngs have coached at Montgomery Central, but Jimmy doesn’t think Sam will be the third.
“He’s his own man,” Jimmy said. “He’s going to do what he wants. He wants to coach and he’s not worried about following in my footsteps or his granddad’s. That’s never entered his mind. If I were a betting man I’d say he’d be at Houston County 20 more years, because he likes it there and is building a good program. He’s got good kids coming up. They’re going to be good for a long time.”
And Sam’s plan is to stick around and make Houston County a state contender.
“I just want to keep building here,” Sam said. “I want the chance to go to sectional and get to the state tournament. That’s our goal. If that wasn’t your goal then you’re not really trying to get your program where it needs to be. I feel like we’re on the path to getting to those big games. We just have to keep working and working and build our kids up. I feel like everything is going in the right direction and I don’t want to be anywhere else.”