For the love of the game: Coach returns to same court where she started program over 40 years ago

Sophia Bradley

Four decades ago, Ruth Whiteley started teaching and coaching the girls basketball program at Bryan High. For 10 years she coached the team until she transitioned into a full time history teacher.

“I started coaching when I got out of A&M in 1975 and I was in a little school in West Texas called Albany High School,” Whiteley said. “But I had done my student teaching in Bryan, so I had an opportunity to come back and start a girls basketball program here, which was in the fall of 1976.”

Though she stopped coaching for so long, Whiteley was willing to come back and continue what she started by coaching JV when head girls basketball coach Christopher Jones asked her.

“I knew that Whiteley would be very intense and be passionate about the program being successful,” Jones said. “She runs a no nonsense program and strives for excellence and that’s what we wanted to shape our program.”

Coach Gregg, who used to coach track with Whiteley, couldn’t believe she was coming back.

“I’m really glad to see her back on the court because she said she still has some coaching left in her,” Gregg said. “At first I thought she was joking, but she’s back, and she’s doing a good job.”

After being away from coaching for so long, the game has changed in Whiteley’s eyes. Basketball has seemed to slow down for her and she doesn’t need to be as vocal as she used to be. Her connection with the athletes is just as important to her as the game itself.

“I enjoy sharing the love of the game with young athletes and teaching them about being competitive,” Whiteley said. “I also encourage them to do well academically so they’re not here just to be an athlete or just to be a student- they’re here to be both.”

The JV girls basketball members see Whiteley as a great mentor both in basketball and their school lives. She helps make sure they stay on track and keep their grades up.

“She’s a good coach because she’s strict,” JV basketball player Symoria Adkins said. “She makes sure that we all have all of our work in on time and that we’re in class. I feel like my attitude is better because she doesn’t want us to get in trouble. She just wants us to do well on the court and in our classes.”

Her JV team has done well this season, earning the district championship by winning 21 games and losing only 2. Whiteley is proud of her team for how much they’ve achieved.

“We are fortunate to have Coach Whiteley as part of the program. The players have developed a relationship and bonded with her this season,” Jones said. “They are district champions, and I don’t think that could’ve been done without Whiteley.”