“This didn’t go quite the way I had planned,” Tyler Peterson said to the crowd following Lenox’s 55-49 loss to Martensdale St. Marys in a Class 1A District 12 quarterfinal game Thursday night.
Tyler Peterson had envisioned sending his father Karl out as a winner in his final game coaching in front of the home crowd.
And while the Tigers didn’t come out on top, the ceremony went on as planned, as Tyler Peterson said a few words about his father’s coaching career at Lenox, saying there aren’t many people who have gone through the Lenox school district who haven’t been affected in some way by coach Peterson.
There were tears as Lenox seniors Mason Peterson and Jose Govea hugged their coach, and in Mason’s case, his father, after their final high school basketball game.
But, there were also plenty of laughs as coach Peterson joked with his former players who walked onto the court to share in the special moment with the man they called “coach.”
Peterson joked with one that he remembered him having more hair when he played basketball. He announced to the crowd that one player “probably had the last dunk for me,” and then joked that it looked like that happened a few pounds ago.
After Peterson shook hands with each of his former players, his final Lenox Tigers boys basketball team and all his former players gathered around coach Peterson as they brought it in one last time.
Following the ceremony, Peterson noted that he is looking forward to life past coaching.
“I’m tired of living on Rolaids,” he said. “During the winter season, during basketball, it’s a busy time. I miss time at home. I miss doing things with family. I will miss (coaching), definitely. But, it is time to move on.”
And after 29 years of coaching, who can blame him?
Peterson has coached basketball each of those 29 years at Lenox — 12 years as junior high boys coach and 17 as a varsity coach. He has coached everything on the boys side except for wrestling and football. He’s also coached volleyball, softball and track and field.
One of Peterson’s former basketball players is Jesse Cox, Peterson’s current co-head coach of the Tigers.
“It’s very tough, very emotional for a lot of us,” Cox said after the game. “The best form of flattery for me, is that I’ve coached all three of his sons, and he wanted it that way. I played for him. We talked about it in the locker room, trying to tell the underclassmen. Last year Jordan Reed said it, Mason Peterson said it tonight — it goes by quick.
“Whether it’s football, or basketball or baseball. I looked at them and said, ‘I can’t believe it’s been 25 years ago, it was my last game under coach Peterson.’ He’s not just a coach. He’s a great teacher and a great leader. It’s not just the basketball players, it’s all the kids he’s had in class. He’s done everything. Whenever anyone asks him to do something, he’ll do it. He’s just a great man.”
And on his final night of coaching varsity basketball, Peterson was able to coach his youngest son Mason, while his two eldest sons — Alex and Tyler — were able to join him on the court following the game.
“My boys have grown up in the gym, so we’ve got to spend a lot of good, quality time in the gym,” coach Peterson said. “Quality time together playing ball. They’re playing ball right now behind us. It’s great being with the boys.
“My boys have been very blessed with talent, and we’ve been blessed to have a lot of talented kids around them,” he continued. “You’ve got to have a team. We’ve been blessed to have a lot of good kids around my sons, so we’ve won more than we’ve lost, and I guess that’s good stuff.”
While he may be done coaching at the varsity level, Peterson didn’t rule out a return to the coaching ranks in the future.
“I may get back into junior high next year,” he said. “I’m not giving up coaching. I think I’ll go nuts if I can’t get a little fix. But, the varsity, that’s OK. It’s time to be done.”
There’s been so much going on these past two weeks, it’s almost hard for me to remember everything I had planned to write about.
• Is there a better sporting atmosphere than a wrestling tournament in the state of Iowa? It’s hard to find something better.
Without a doubt, my favorite part about district and sectional tournaments, is the unlikely alliances that get formed when it comes to wrestlebacks.
I love seeing the crowd, coaches and athletes cheer for someone they wouldn’t normally cheer for, all based on whether or not they want a wrestleback to happen.
• When I saw cheerleaders from Nodaway Valley, Corning, West Central Valley and Martensdale-St. Marys sit matside and cheer for East Union’s Bryson Kinyon at the district tournament on Saturday, I thought that was one of the coolest things I’d seen happen in covering high school sports.
• The level of athletic talent at Creston High School these days is almost crazy when I think about it. A total of five athletes signed National Letters of Intent over the past two weeks to continue their athletic careers at the next level. And there are still several more senior athletes in this class who could still make a decision and compete at the next level.
• Oh, and I hear that Jake Marlin kid might do something special this weekend.
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