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Boys basketball: Osborne devotes more time to coaching

By Nick Brockman

POCA, W.Va. -- The title "gym rat" typically refers to a scrappy player dedicated to the weight room or the quest to continual improvement, though at Poca, it belongs to the man at the top of the boys basketball program.

After 40 years of teaching and more than 25 years as athletic director, Coach Allen Osborne dedicates himself solely to basketball in his 35th season leading the Dots.

"I've retired from teaching and athletic director and now just coaching basketball," Osborne said. "It's good, I get more time to watch film and relax a little bit more, do more scouting. It's all basketball now, so it's pretty good."

Osborne retired from his teaching and athletic director positions at the end of the 2011-12 school year. Without the day-to-day rigors and challenges of his former positions, Osborne's newfound free time presents opportunities for the players.

"He's here every day," junior forward Jake Payne said.

Below the Poca gymnasium in his basement office, Osborne studies opponents and strategizes awaiting the next game.

"He's down in his office every day during school," Payne said. "You can come down and he'll talk to you, let you watch film during lunch. It's better now because he doesn't have class, so he's down here all the time."

There's more time to spend with family, players and to scheme, but Osborne said it's still business as usual.

"I've just got more time to do it and it's less stressful, because I've been doing the same things," he said. "We always do what we do, but I don't have to worry about the other things like getting the officials checks and getting everything set up for games, security and that kind of stuff. I can spend more time focusing on basketball.

"It hasn't changed anything. To be honest, I'm here most of the day. Every day I come here and spend a lot of time here at the school. Nothing's really changed except I'm just not going to class and scheduling football and baseball and that type of thing."

Osborne began his coaching career with three seasons at Winfield before moving onto Poca. A Greenbrier County native, Osborne's connection with Poca started when Osborne was in college and did his student-teaching there. Now, in his fourth decade at the helm of Poca's basketball program, Osborne's posted 535 career wins, including a 3-1 start this season.

It's the same old business for Osborne this season with fewer responsibilities, but there's more time to devote to basketball, too.

Osborne joked that wasn't evident in the Dots' 53-39 loss to Tolsia in a tough Cardinal Conference defeat Tuesday.

"I get to spend more time looking at basketball, getting ready," he said. "It didn't look like it (Tuesday), but I've enjoyed it."

Extra time preparing also means more one-on-one time with the players.

"He gets more time to go over film, assess film, stats," Payne said. "He watches film over and over again. He's here on Sundays. He'll text us on Sundays 'Anybody want to shoot? Come in,' and we come in and shoot, watch film, just like any other day off."

Osborne said the players, as well as support of staff, faculty and community keep him from surrendering his post.

"I love coaching basketball and I love Poca High School and our community, I love our kids there," he said. "I've done it for 40 years. Enjoy going to the gym, enjoy scouting, getting ready for games. I still enjoy coaching."

With that sentiment in mind, Osborne stepped away from his other duties, but wasn't quite ready to turn over the coach's clipboard.

"I enjoyed teaching, I enjoyed the AD job," he said. "It's just time to let go and we'll do this at least for one year and make a decision at the end of the year."

Until Osborne's last day, one thing's fairly sure. They'll be at least one gym rat occupying the Poca gym basement.


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