By DAVE HANNEMAN
Connie Lyon will never, ever define her coaching career by wins and losses.
She could fill a couple of scrapbooks, though, with the photos, mementoes and memories of the lives she has touched.
“What I love most about coaching is being the biggest fan of the players and how they have acted out their life roles,” Lyon said. “I love watching them, seeing what they’ve become: doctors, teachers, mothers, even coaches.
“The neat thing is seeing what those alumni have done beyond high school. How much room do you have (for the story)? That’s what we need to be talking about.”
If wins and losses were all that defined Lyon’s career, it would be an impressive resume.
In nine years as head coach at Yorktown High School in Indiana (128-64) and 11 at Findlay High (156-95), she compiled a 284-159 career record (.641 winning percentage). Lyon guided Yorktown to seven Delaware County titles and a regional championship in her nine seasons there, then mentored Findlay to three league championships and four runner-up finishes, regional tournament appearances in 2006 and 2007, and a first-ever trip to the state Final Four in 2007.
Even the emotional highlight of playing in the Division I state semifinal was an opportunity to scrapbook something more than points and rebounds.
“One of the moments I’ll never forget came right after that game,” Lyon said. “We’re playing in the Final Four, at the Schott (Schottenstein Center) and when the game was over, as a team and as a staff, we’re walking across the floor and we’re standing in front of the Findlay community and we’re applauding them because of their support. I think that is one of the neatest moments.”
Lyon is turning the page on her career, though, informing school officials that she is stepping down as Findlay High’s head coach.
“It’s a new chapter for me, and it starts with my family,” said Lyon, who was named Northwest Ohio’s Division I Coach of the Year in 2006 and conference coach of the year five times.
“My husband, Shawn, has been an assistant for 20 years. My children, even my in-laws, have been involved with the program. They’ve been very supportive of me and something I truly have a love and a real passion for.
“Now it’s my turn to be there for them.”
True to form, Lyon waited until after the awards banquet following the 2013-14 season to make the announcement.
“What’s more important than them?” Lyon said of her players. “Those kids needed their moment.”
“When you look at Connie’s basketball achievements, they are special. When you look at the person, it’s even more amazing,” Findlay High Athletic Director Nate Weihrauch said in a statement announcing Lyon’s decision to step down.
“For eleven seasons we’ve been fortunate and blessed to have her guide, teach and instruct our students in basketball and in life. We appreciate all she’s done for our community, our programs and our student-athletes.”
Lyon was active and involved in a number of projects beyond the basketball court, projects like Coaches against Cancer, Habitat for Humanity, Soles for Souls (which collects shoes for children in impoverished countries) and Stephanie’s Team of Hope (part of Chris Spielman’s Fight against Cancer).
Many of her players, past and present, joined in as well.
“We have a higher calling, a higher purpose than just making baskets,” said Lyon, who, in collaboration with Findlay’s Mission Possible group, organized a humanitarian trip to the Dominican Republic last summer. Lyon, members of her family, student athletes from Findlay and Liberty-Benton and Mission Possible representatives conducted camps and donated sports equipment, shoes and clothes to the children in the impoverished town of Barahona, Dominican Republic.
“I love being able to contribute to something like that, to provide opportunities for athletes to really express themselves and see how blessed and fortunate they are and how much they can give to others. That trip to the Dominican Republic was one of those chances to get out of the box and see what they can do.”
Now that she’s not coaching, Lyon said she may have to make some adjustments.
“People would always ask me how the girls are doing. I’d have to clarify: ‘Do you mean my daughters, or my team?'” Lyon said.
“We do see them (team) as family. That’s what makes this such a difficult decision. I’m excited to move on, but I’m sad, too, because those girls are family to me.”
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EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a corrected version of this story.