State championships. Years of success. Lives touched. That’s the legacy of Ted Younts.
Today in Tulsa, the former Ardmore basketball coach will be inducted into the Oklahoma Coaches Association Hall of Fame. Younts, 63, guided Ardmore High School’s boys program through its richest period in school history, his career apex coming with back-to-back Class 4A state championships with the Tigers in 1993 and 1994.
“It’s really humbling to be honored by your peers,” Younts said Friday. “I just consider myself fortunate to be the coach there during the time where there were really good players.
“We had a community that really took a lot of pride in the program, and that really helps.”
Younts joked about his induction, saying the Hall should be renamed the “Hall of Shame” after he enters. His modesty, however, can’t hide a career that saw success at various stops.
Originally from Stonewall, 13 miles southeast of Ada, Younts attended East Central University after high school. He played two years of basketball at ECU, and got his coaching start via his high school coach Kenneth Murphy, who is in the Oklahoma Girls Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame.
Younts’ first coaching job was at Butner, a Class B school, in 1971, when he was just 22 years old. From there, he made his big break at Graham (Class B) from 1972-1980, where he coached six state-runner up teams. Younts also spent a year at Sallisaw before going to Ardmore.
Younts run at Ardmore was the longest stay of his careers — 19 years — from 1981-2000. He was also the athletic director his last four years at Ardmore and spent time as an assistant golf coach.
While at Ardmore, Younts’ basketball teams went to the state tournament 14 out of his 19 years.
“I think it’s more than we’ll deserved,” said Al Johnson, who was a part of two state championship teams (1993, 1994) coached by Younts. “Coach Younts has been one of the most elite coaches not only in the state of Oklahoma, but all over.
“The one thing that shows the greatness of coach Younts is his system, his fundamental philosophy, is timeless. The same skills and terminology he taught is a lot of stuff I still use today. It’s all a pure, core fundamental of how things should be done.”
Johnson added that much of what Younts taught his Ardmore players was the same as he taught at Graham. Younts’ knowledge of basketball and ability to pass it to players spanned generations.
“We always believed that the foundation to any good basketball team, any good basketball player, was good fundamentals,” Younts said. “We thought, I still believe, that if you don’t have those fundamentals to fall back on, whatever you do is going to break down eventually. Everything that we did is still very applicable today.”
Younts was inducted into the Oklahoma Boys Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2002. That same year, Mark Wilson took over the Ardmore boys basketball program.
Wilson said that Younts’ success has paved the way for him. As coach at Western Heights, Wilson coached against Younts before coming to Ardmore.
“He’s the guy that put Ardmore basketball on the map,” Wilson said. “He had success coaching at Graham before and built Ardmore into the program it is, perennial state tournament teams year after year.
“He’s just the kinda of guy that everyone that’s coached after him has been able to benefit from him.”
Younts had his retirement last year in Boswell High School in Texas after 10 years at the school, but he’s still athletic administrator for all football and baseball games.
In his off time, he said he’s gotten into making furniture and playing lots of golf. Even in the laid back days of retirement, he still relishes taking time to talk about the great teams from Ardmore.
“The 90s were really kind, we had really good players,” he said. “It started coming around in the late 80s. The kids that we started having starting having a lot of pride. We got some things going and it became very important for them to be successful.
“As good of basketball players they may have been, believe it or not, they were better people. We went through a time period where we had great kids. It takes a lot of luck and it takes good players.”
Erik K. Horne