By Sam Ojeda / Sports Editor
It is not very often that the world sees coaches come out of their retirement but former Hutchinson Community College athlete, coach and administrator Randy Stange has taken over as the head men’s basketball coach for Sterling College.
Stange was a long time member of the HutchCC community. Stange, who is a Nickerson High School graduate, came to HutchCC as a member of the basketball team. He was a key piece of many successful teams but he was also a dual-sport athlete. Stange was also a Blue Dragon tennis player at the college. After HutchCC, Stange went on to have a successful career at Missouri State.
A coaching career filled with constant success and many stories followed in Stange’s career. After a long assistant coaching stint at multiple Division 1 programs, Stange returned to HutchCC as the men’s basketball coach in 1994.
“My time at Hutchinson is one of the best parts of my career so far,” Stange said.
Stange had a lot of success in his career but also had some regrets.
“My biggest regret when I was there was when I had my best team,” Stange said.
Stange had a really good looking team headed into the 1997-98 season. The Blue Dragons had won Region 6 the season before and Stange had compiled a quality roster for the next season.
“My biggest regret in my career was not coaching that team,” Stange said. “That team could have competed for the national championship.”
What people forget about coaching is that they have a whole other side of life: The personal side. His family is what kept Stange from coaching that team.
“When I was coaching at Hutch, I had four kids,” Stange said about his family, “My oldest daughter was 6, and as a coach I missed every birthday party.
“I was never there.”
When the athletic director position at HutchCC opened up, Stange was open to it but not exactly interested. However, his wife made his mind shift from open, to interested.
“She told me that I have missed every birthday,” Stange said. “That made a real indication that I should look at this job.”
Stange ultimately made the decision to take the HutchCC AD job.
“It was a family decision, not a professional decision,” Stange said.
As the AD, Stange felt more in control of his life. He felt the job was not easier than coaching but it was more predictable when he had free time. After his tenure at HutchCC, he moved on to be the athletic director first for Springfield Public Schools in Missouri and then at Johnson County CC.
Stange however, always had the itch to coach again.
“The last year at JCCC was the last year of having a child in the house,” Stange said. “Now that she was grown up and on her own, there were no more birthdays to miss.”
He had a chance to come back to coaching and he took it.
The Sterling College men’s basketball job opened up and he took it.
Now Sterling’s coach Randy Stange took over a program that was 2-29 in the 2021-2022 season and he knew he had a job to do.
“Coming here, I knew just with a little recruiting and bringing other guys back we were going to be better,” Stange said.
Stange was right, his team is now above .500 with a record of 14-12. The Warriors are also 10-10 in KCAC play and tied for sixth place headed to Wednesday’s game at Avila.
Stange and his group have an opportunity to have the first winning season since 2013-2014. It takes more than just players for a team to succeed, it takes a culture and Stange knew that.
“When I walked in those doors, I wanted to change the mindset of accountability,” Stange said.
Stange wanted to focus on the little things with his players, “It starts with getting your guys to go to class and how they act in the community and the cafeteria,” Stange said. “We need to show we could handle ourselves and they showed me they could buy in.”
This idea of being bought in is bringing success to Sterling. Stange is back at the helm coaching in college basketball for the first time in 25 years. He is loving the experience and enjoying time with his family.