Young makes many milestones coaching Co-Lin

Published 6:00 am Thursday, January 15, 2009

WESSON – Milestones come and milestones go. Copiah-LincolnCommunity College women’s coach Gwyn Young just keeps on keepingon.

When it comes to winning women’s basketball games at the juniorcollege level, Young is among the best in the business. A futureNJCAA Basketball Hall of Fame selection, Young has compiled 705wins and 216 losses in 33 seasons at Co-Lin.

His accomplishments are many. Obviously, Young enjoyscoaching.

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Young celebrated his 57th birthday, Sept. 30. He plans tocontinue coaching for several years. Certainly, 800 wins is anachievable goal.

Currently, Young is second on the list of active most winningcoaches in junior college women’s basketball. Bob McKinley ofWeatherford, Texas, has amassed an overall record of 732 wins and337 losses in 31 years of coaching.

Ever since he was a skinny kid growing up in the shadow of WestLincoln’s old gymnasium, Young possessed a passion for sports.Besides basketball, he was a highly competitive baseball andsoftball player. He played travel team softball for many yearsafter he started teaching and coaching at Co-Lin.

“From about the sixth or seventh grade, I knew I really likedsports,” said Young. “I thought coaching was something I would liketo do.”

Young starred for West Lincoln where his father, L.G. Young,served as principal. He later played for M.K. Turk at Co-Lin andfinished his playing career at Mississippi College.

Young still maintains a passion for winning. There’s an intense,competitive spirit within him.

“If that fire ever goes out, I’m gone,” said Young. “I like thechallenge of coaching.”

Ranked No. 10 in the latest national poll, Young’s 2008-09edition is off to a 14-1 start. The Lady Wolves are an interestingmix of athletic shooters and rebounders who can run the floorlike…she wolves.

There have been numerous South Division, state and regionalcrowns along the way. “All the state and regional tournamentchampionships were good. Other teams I had that might not have beenas good accomplished a lot because they worked hard.”

The former Velesta Smith, Young’s wife and high schoolsweetheart, accompanies her husband on many recruiting trips andout-of-state tournaments. They have seen a lot of basketballtogether.

“She likes going to games and seeing the players I’mrecruiting,” said Young.

On occasion, Velesta feeds the team supper on Sunday nights.There’s a family atmosphere on the squad.

“That’s helps our overall picture,” said Young. “The playersknow you worry about them and are concerned about what they do inclass and that they’re going to graduate.”

Three seasons ago, the Lady Wolves went to the Nationals inSalina, Kan. They finished sixth. They were fourth in 1989, theirbest-ever finish.

Co-Lin men’s basketball coach Dennis Sims is in his 13th seasondirecting the Wolves. He has shared hundreds of bus trips for roadgames and countless late-night strategy sessions. He said heappreciates Young and his coaching ethic.

“Gwyn is the perfect person all around,” said Sims. “He’s thekind of coach you would want your child to play for.

“He’s extremely patient and he gets the most out of his kids.There’s 15 players on the team and he wants the best out of all ofthem, not just the top five or six. He enjoys coaching, too.

“Gwyn is a great friend and a great person, Sims added. Sims wason the opposing bench for 12 years prior to that, coaching thearchrival Southwest Mississippi teams in Summit. The first fouryears were spent coaching the Southwest women, going directlyagainst Young’s Lady Wolves.

Co-Lin president Dr. Ronnie Nettles said Young is an outstandingcoach, teacher and administrator. “Gwyn is a tremendous person towork with. He’s a great basketball coach, too. We are veryfortunate to have him with us here at Co-Lin. He is recognized as agreat athletic director and coach across the state. He’s even abetter person.”

Young was Co-Lin’s dean of students prior to this season. Beforethat he taught math at Co-Lin.

He retired from working full-time last summer. However, servingas athletic director and women’s basketball coach demands a lot ofhis attention.

“Gwyn enjoys coaching,” said Nettles. “I’m amazed how he is ableto attract outstanding talent. He works hard at recruiting. Hestays on the road.”

Asked about changes in the game, Young said, “Over the years,the girls have become more athletic. They play a lot more like theguys. They can pull up and shoot jump shots. They are physicallystronger because of weight training.”

Nowadays, the pure shooter is a rarity. Defense has become apriority, especially on the college level.

“I think years back, they spent more time shooting the ball inpractice. Now they work on other aspects of the game.”

Talk about the aging process, Young has coached several playerswhose mothers played for him in his early years at Co-Lin. CheriCole’s daughter, Lindsey Altman, is in that category. “StephanieCase Lofton’s daughter played for me. Tammy Gayten’s daughterplayed for me. So did Vanetta Jones’ daughter, Reisha Bullock. Sheplayed for me last year.”

Young and his wife have two grown children: Lane and Jessica.Lane coaches the West Lincoln boys and girls basketball teams.

In semi-retirement, Young enjoys spending his free time withtheir three grandchildren: Justin, Mary Gwyn and Mailey Kate.

Fans, family and friends will be present tonight when Young isrecognized for his 700-plus victories. Then he’ll get ready for thenext game.

Write to sports editor Tom Goetz, c/o The DAILY LEADER, P.O. BOX551, Brookhaven, MS 39602, or e-mail