Stillwater News Press

Sports Columns

June 2, 2014

The Holt Report: Former coach Justus surprised by Hall of Fame induction

STILLWATER, Okla. — Harley Justus was surprised when he was informed he was going to be inducted into the Oklahoma Girls Basketball Coaches Association’s Hall of Fame.

The longtime coach in the Stillwater area was somewhat surprised because the majority of his basketball coaching tenure had been as a boys’ coach.

Coach Justus did experience success coaching girls’ basketball, highlighted by leading the Oilton High girls to the state basketball tournament in 2002.

For his contributions to the game, Justus was inducted into the OGBCA Hall of Fame last Saturday during a Hall of Fame luncheon at the All Saints Catholic Church in Norman.

He was joined by his wife Ladena and his sons Harley Jr., a teacher at Richmond Elementary in Stillwater and Talby, an assistant women’s coach at University of Texas-Arlington.

“I was real grateful and humbled to receive the honor,” Coach Justus, an Enid native, said. “I wasn’t sure how deserving I was since I had coached boys’ basketball more but when your peers put you up for the award it is humbling. I was pleased they considered me.”

The latest honor capped off a career filled with honors. He was the Cimarron Valley Conference Coach of the Year five times, the News Press Area Coach of the Year twice and coached in the All-State game in 2002.

Coach Justus admitted he wanted to be a football coach when he considered a career in high school coaching.

“I played football at Enid but didn’t play basketball when I was in high school,” Justus said. “My first job was in Fowler, Kan., in western Kansas. I was an assistant football coach and an assistant basketball coach.

“That’s where I fell in love with basketball. The guy I worked with was very knowledgeable and I learned a lot from him.”

Justus began his local coaching career at Perkins-Tryon, where he was assistant boys’ basketball coach, coached junior high basketball and high school softball.

His first head coaching assignment was as the boys’ basketball coach at Glencoe where he worked for five years.

Justus then went to Pawnee as the head boys’ basketball coach and also coached girls’ softball. Pawnee was a memorable time since he coached both of his sons and coached his daughter, Keedra, in softball.

His final move was to Oilton where he served as head girls’ basketball coach and assistant boys’ basketball coach.

Justus, who still resides with his wife east of Stillwater, has been with the Oilton school system the past 16 years. He’s involved in coaching the fifth- and sixth- graders and is a teacher.

“I’ve enjoyed what I’ve done. The rewards are not financial but they are still rewards. I’ve made a lot of good friends through the years,” said Justus, who was recently honored by the Oilton community for his Hall of Fame selection.

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