Leta Andrews has won more games than any coach in the history of high school girls basketball.

But she gives out more hugs in a week than she picks up coaching wins in a decade.

Leta Andrews doesn’t keep track of either.

She is not about numbers.

She is about people.

She would rather inspire a player, or encourage a student, than win a basketball game.

She does both.

She takes pride in both.

But it is the lives she touches, the people she motivates, that will be, should be, her legacy.

Leta Andrews has been coaching basketball for 44 years in Texas high schools.

She has been shaping the essence of life of young women since the days before John Wooden won his first national championship.

She has recorded 1,223 high school girls basketball victories.

She might receive that many Mother’s Day cards this weekend from former players.

Leta Andrews, an exuberant 68-year-old grandmother, is the girls basketball coach at Granbury, Texas, a Class 5A school in the lake country west of Fort Worth.

She drove to Pryor last weekend to help a former assistant, Laura Holloway, and a famous friend, Sherri Coale, conduct a free clinic for area basketball coaches.

Andrews is a member of the Texas High School Hall of Fame.

She should be a Texas Goodwill Ambassador.

She is charming and outgoing, downhome and downright sagacious.

She is as at ease quoting John Wooden as she is quoting the Bible.

She speaks reverently about her father’s teachings, and talks about learning basketball at the feet of the master, Adolph Rupp.

She warmly hugs strangers, and talks of the tough love she dispenses to her players.

She is a competitive distance runner, and she challenges herself daily to be a better basketball coach.

She loves her home state almost as much as she loves the home she has made for her husband of 50 years and her family.

She has been recognized on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, and she has seen her name applied to the floor of the gym where she coaches.

She has coached in the McDonald’s All-American game, and she has been honored as the Walt Disney Foundation National Teacher of the Year.

She once dreamed of success. Today, she defines success.

While Andrews spent the weekend with Holloway, her assistant for five years in the 1990s, she talked about the path that led her from a Texas farm as a reticent youngster to the Hall of Fame as a vivacious adult.

“What is success?” she asked, repeating a question posed to her.

“Winning 50 per cent of your ball games?

“Success to me is teaching young ladies to be young ladies,” she said. “To be productive citizens in our society. To be a strong academic student in the classroom.

“And when those ingredients all come together, it’s going to make up a complete person.

“You can dream about all of that. But dreams aren’t going to just happen. You’ve got to do them. You’ve got to roll out of that bed and you’ve got to get after it.

“I’ve dreamed of taking young ladies and helping them taste the fruits of victory,” she said.

In Leta Andrews’ case, her dreams have come true. She worked at making those dreams come true.

She has helped her young ladies consistently taste victory since before the days when her friend Don Haskins and his Texas Western basketball team traveled the “Road to Glory” and won the 1966 national championship.

She has produced 34 seasons in which her teams have won 20 games or more.

She has endured only one losing season.

She has lost only 251 games in 44 seasons.

She does not dwell on the losses. She does not celebrate the victories.

“The only win that’s important to me is the next one,” she says.

“Yesterday’s over. The door’s locked and the key’s thrown away.

“We’ve got to make the best of today. Today’s the first day of the rest of our lives.

“We’ve got to do it, and do it good.”

She taught English in the classroom, and life skills on the basketball court.

“The five years I coached with her were life-altering,” Holloway said.

“It impacted my life greatly. The things that I learned from her. The kids that we coached. I will never forget those five years.

“We still talk all the time. I was at her home in Granbury and spent a few days with her just last month.

“Being with her, coaching with her, changed my life. For the better,” Holloway said. “She affects everyone like that.”

Andrews might not have been born to coach. But she knew she wanted to do more, had to do more, than work the land on her father’s Texas farm.

Her wedding present from her father more than a half-century ago was her education.

She and her husband, David, have spent their adult lives in education, coaching and teaching.

Their three daughters have entered the same two professional fields.

That is a tribute to Leta Andrews’ dedication to her life’s work.

Although she retired from the classroom more than a decade ago, Andrews remains the girls’ director of athletics at Granbury, as well as the basketball coach.

“I’ve loved every minute of it,” she says with enthusiasm.

“I have spent a lot of time learning basketball. And you have to work at it.

“While I’m here with Sherri, I’m going to be writing down some notes I can take back to my program, things that will help my program.

“I try to continue to develop my mind, and take that to the young ladies in my program.”

She calls herself, proudly, “old school.”

She talks about her friendships with coaches such as Rupp and Abe Lemons and Wooden.

When she first decided to coach, she borrowed $20 from a bank to attend a clinic featuring Rupp, the Hall of Fame coach from Kentucky.

Her conversations are laced with quotes from Rupp, Wooden and others.

“If talent doesn’t hustle, then hustle can beat talent.”

“We’re going to do what’s right, and we’re going to work at making good choices and good decisions.”

“If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well.”

She says that she is a better coach today than she was 44 years ago, or, for that matter, 24 years ago.

It is a combination, she said, of maturity, experience, and “the materials that are available today.”

One of those resources Andrews regularly taps into is the legendary UCLA coach John Wooden.

She visited with him earlier this spring.

He imparted a piece of advice he had shared with her on previous occasions.

It dealt with the respect a coach commands from his players.

“If you work them hard, they’re going to talk about you,” Wooden was telling Andrews.

“If you work them easy, they’re going to talk about you.

“So,” Wooden continued, “You might as well work them out, and work them out hard.”

Andrews smiled that grandmotherly smile.

“And, you know, he’s right,” she said. “He is exactly right.”

Andrews works her players. And works them hard.

And, sure enough, everybody talks about her.

They talk about her being the best high school girls basketball coach in the country.

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