Published 7:00 pm Sunday, November 13, 2011
For Gwyn Young, 35 years of directing theCopiah-Lincoln Community College women’s basketball team have flownby, seeming to go faster each year. Mix teaching, coaching,recruiting and raising a family into a super-sized bowl and theresults equal a high level of success.
Young, 60, is the winningest active women’s basketball coach in theNational Junior College Athletic Association. His accomplishmentsare too numerous to mention. For sure Young has dribbled his careerinto the sports history books.
He has compiled an overall record of 776 wins and 227 losses.
As the 2011-12 campaign gets under way, Co-Lin is pausing for aspecial celebration Monday night. The refurbished playing floor inGrayden L. Mullen Gymnasium will be officially christened GwynYoung Court. The ceremony will start around 7:30, during a breakbetween the women’s and men’s games against Coahoma.
Young said he was flattered by the attention. “It’s really nice ofCo-Lin to do that. They gave me an opportunity to come here at ayoung age and start the women’s program.”
In 1976, Young was 24 years old and fresh out of MississippiCollege. He was teaching five classes at Brookhaven High School andcoaching the junior varsity boys team when Co-Lin called.
Young said he has received generous support and encouragement fromthe community during his tenure. “I appreciate all the support I’vehad from the city of Wesson and Co-Lin.”
His dry wit and sense of humor help put life in proper perspective.He said his accomplishments haven’t altered his numerousfriendships over the years.
Young laughed when he recalled a conversation. “When I won 700games, one of my friends said if I had been coaching 70 years, Icould have won 10 games a year.”
He is 24 wins away from another milestone: his 800th careervictory. It’s a major rebuilding campaign after last season’s stateand regional championships. His Lady Wolves finished sixth in theNJCAA National Tournament in Salina, Kan., and were ranked as highat No. 3 in the NJCAA Poll.
When his record is mentioned in conversation, Young preferspointing to his long list of talented players who made all thosewins possible.
“We have had some really good players from our district and out ofstate,” said Young. “We have some good high school coaches helpingmake good players.”
A Franklin County native, Young grew up in a basketball-crazyenvironment at West Lincoln. His father, L.G. Young, was principalat the school for several years.
“I’ve been blessed that I’ve been in the right place,” said Young.”A lot of good coaches have never won state or regional and gone tonationals.”
Asked about some of his best players, Young said there’s more towinning than points, rebounds, assists and steals. Team effort iscritical to success.
“There’s been so many good players, it would be hard to name them,”said Young. “Some of them might not have been the best players butthey contributed so much to making our team successful.”
Co-Lin finished seventh in the 2010 national tourney. Co-Lin alsoclaimed a sixth and fourth place finish earlier in his career.
Basically, Co-Lin has prevailed against schools with much largerrecruiting budgets and international players. Most of the LadyWolves are from Mississippi and Co-Lin’s 7-district area. A few arefrom neighboring Louisiana.
Dr. Ronnie Nettles, Co-Lin’s progressive young president, saidYoung was a valuable asset when he was promoted to the head jobnearly four years ago. “Gwyn has been a tremendous resource to methe last three and half years during my time as president. He has avast knowledge of athletics. He is respected by the other athleticdirectors in the state as a strong leader.”
Young has served under three Co-Lin presidents, starting with Dr.Billy B. Thames. Dr. Howell Garner replaced Thames and retired fouryears ago.
Nettles said Young literally put Co-Lin on the map in women’sbasketball. “As far as a coach goes, you compare it to what he hasaccomplished. It’s staggering when you consider what he hasachieved.
“Our women’s basketball program is recognized nationally as one ofthe best. He is level-headed and good to work with, too.”
The gym is named in honor of Mullen, who worked as Co-Lin’sbusiness manager for 20 years, from 1946-66. His wife also workedin the Co-Lin library.
The refurbishing of Co-Lin’s gym was completed last summer.Newly-installed bleachers make it attractive in the modern mode.
“We wanted to wait until the gym’s renovations had been completed,”said Nettles. He made the recommendation to the Co-Lin Board ofTrustees to name the floor in Young’s honor. They immediatelyaccepted it.
Nettles said, “It is certainly deserving.”
Growing up in the West Lincoln community. Young was influenced themost by the basketball program and his father’s strong work ethic.West Lincoln coaching legend Jack Case got him headed in the rightdirection.
“Jack Case came to West Lincoln and gave me a ball,” said Young.”My daddy put up a goal and I’ve been shooting ever since.”
Case left West Lincoln and went to Loyd Star when Young was asophomore. Young played for Ed Zumbro his junior and senior yearsat West Lincoln, earning a scholarship to Co-Lin as a skinny,6-foot-3 center.
A 1973 West Lincoln graduate, Young played for Coach M.K. Turk atCo-Lin. At Mississippi College, he played for James Q. “Stute”Allen.
Turk achieved greatness coaching Southern Miss to the NITchampionship several years before his retirement. He coached Co-Linto the state and regional championships in 1974 before taking anassistant coaching position at Memphis University.
“Gwyn was a very talentedathlete and he worked hard,” said Turk. “He had a great attitudeand that carried over into the classroom as well. He was a model citizen and a player.
“I’m not surprised that he has enjoyed that unparalleled success atCo-Lin,” Turk continued. “He was a student of the game and heworked at it. I can’t imagineanyone ever equaling his success atCo-Lin.”
Asked about changes in the game, Young replied. “Female athleteshave become stronger and more athletic. They are faster, quickerand stronger. More and more they play like the men do.”
Young is a dedicated to seeing his team improve. “We practice morethan we used to. We have access to the weight room at the(Co-Lin) fitnesscenter.”
His Lady Wolves lift weights during the season, three days aweek.
Co-Lin men’s basketball coach Dennis Sims, 61, has been workingwith Young for 16 years. Before moving to Co-Lin Sims coached atSouthwest, first as women’s coach and then as men’s coach. Simssaid he held Young in high regard.
“Gwyn is the man you want your child to play for, without a doubt.Coach (Cliff) Furr and I have a name for him. We call him Andy.He’s concerned about everyone around him.”
The Andy nickname refers to the down-to-earth country sheriff in”The Andy Griffith Show” that rose to TV fame in the 1960s.
When Sims was hospitalized two years ago with an acute stomachillness, Young inherited the men’s basketball job. He accepted theresponsibility.
“Gwyn takes care of the things I mess up on,” said Sims. “He handles stressfulsituations very well. He’s the best person I’ve ever beenaround.
“He has helped me in so many ways outside the game, I could neverpay him back.”
Sims spent 12 years at Southwest, his first four as women’s coach. Herecalled his coaching encounters against Young. “We played him nineor 10 times. I think I beat him three times.”
Laughing, Sims recalled ablowout loss to Young’s team. “He whipped me once by 53 (points). Isaid it was 58. Late in the game he was still calling timeouts toget onto his players and make them play better defense.”
Obviously, Young is able to motivate his players. He gets them toplay hard for him.
Young’s work ethic is impressive off the court, too. Sims said, “Hewill see more games than anyone. He loves recruiting and meetingpeople. He recruits the right way, too.
“Gwyn is a student of a game,” Sims continued. “He’s alwaysdoodling plays. He has forgotten more about the game than I everlearned.”
Young is in third year of part-time retirement. “Right now, I stilllike it. I’m willing to put the effort into it to do it right.”
He celebrated his 60th birthday on Sept. 30. He and his wife, theformer Velesta Smith of West Lincoln; have two children, Lane, a basketballcoach at West Lincoln; and Jessica Hynum, who lives in Wesson. Sheis a teacher at Mami Martin School in Brookhaven.
They have four grandchildren: Mailey Kate Young, Mary Gwyn Hynum,Grant Hynum and Justin Hynum.
Obviously, the grandchildren keep Young and his wife busy. Shestill accompanies him on his recruiting trips unless she goes toLane’s games at West Lincoln.
Young has been athletic director at Co-Lin since 1989. It’s a busylifestyle but he enjoys it.
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