Editor’s Note: Benny Rogers is a former Athens Daily Review Sports Editor. He wrote the following Monday night upon hearing of the passing of legendary boys and girls high school basketball coach Curtis Corley.
In 26 years at LaPoynor, Corley was named the Henderson County Coach of the Year 14 times, won a state basketball title in 2003, went to the state tournament eight times and won the district title 24 times.
My heart aches tonight. No, it’s broken.
We have lost a Henderson County coaching legend. More so, we have lost a great guy – A GREAT GUY.
In my years as a journalist, I had the privilege of covering, getting to know and becoming friends with dozens and dozens of coaches. Though they all had my respect and admiration, none more so than Curtis Corley.
When it came to class, Curtis was in a class by himself
Like their coach, kids Curtis coached played with heart, played hard and with determination to win. And they won a lot – a lot. But, also like their coach, they played with great sportsmanship and did not disrespect their usually-out-manned opponents.
Curtis was just about, no, probably was, the nicest person in his profession I was ever around. It was always about others with him and making sure others felt special.
He often told me his kids and the good folks in LaPoynor knew it was a big game when Charles Stiff and I showed up to cover the game. Now, I’m not sure that was true, but it was his way of making sure Charles and I knew we were appreciated.
I will never forget in 2003 when his beloved Flyerettes finally got to the top of the mountain and claimed a state championship. I had to miss the state title game, though I did make it down Saturday for the now-defunct Texas Cup game, which featured the two Class A state champions.
To my surprise, Curtis made sure Charles and I each received a state championship medal, which I still have and treasure to this day. As journalists, we should not have accepted the medals from him. But we didn’t accept them as journalists, we accepted them as his friends.
It was just another example of Curtis always thinking of others. That was true Curtis Corley.
I have so many memories of him, not all related to his incredible tenure at LaPoynor High School and all the trips I made with his teams to gyms across East Texas and to Austin for state tournaments. I remember competing against him in softball. I remember seeing him munching down on popcorn on the front row at Cardinal Gym. I remember how my heart was happy just seeing him passing by in his jeep (with the top off, of course). Those are just a few.
I will miss my friend. I will never forget him.
Thanks for everything, Curtis. Godspeed, my friend.