Nation's winningest coach ending 51-year career at Granbury High

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by GEORGE RIBA

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WFAA

Posted on February 24, 2014 at 10:12 PM

Updated Monday, Feb 24 at 10:40 PM

GRANBURY — When you're driving south on Highway 377 through the city of Granbury, it's hard to miss Lake Granbury.

It's also hard to miss the water tower, which proclaims this town the home of Leta Andrews, the nation's winningest basketball high school coach.

“When I can't go outside and run, I run these bleachers because I'm a runner and I want to say fit," Andrews said, still as active as ever but age 76. But after 51 years of coaching basketball, she has decided to retire.

Her final day will be May 31, 2014.

“As I look back at my career, I’ve been very blessed that I had the opportunity to teach girls here in Granbury to love basketball the way I loved basketball in Granbury,” Andrews said.

She became the all-time winningest coach in 2010, when she passed Fort Worth Dunbar's boys coach Robert Hughes on the nation’s high school win list. Andrews became an instant celebrity, but she doesn't consider herself a legend.

“No I really don't, because I just think I’m a number, and I get the opportunity to serve people and help people,” she said. “That's what life is all about. I think the most wasted day of one’s life is the day they don't serve and help someone.”

The trophy she got the night she broke Hughes' record is one of many prized possessions she doesn't mind showing off.

“It’s full of great memories, and I'm just very, very appreciative of what I've accomplished and I want to share it with the world,” Andrews said.

Over the years, she has been honored numerous times. The Granbury basketball court is named in her honor.

“I love the fact that I’ve been blessed to give so many years of service,” Andrews said.

She was named Disney's Teacher of the Year in 1993, and was inducted into the Texas Sports Hall of Fame in Waco as well as the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in Knoxville.

The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame shouldn't be far behind; that's what happens when you win 1,416 games.

“A gentleman in upstate New York called yesterday and said, 'I cannot believe that your average of wins — 28 ball games a season through the 51 years — which is remarkable.' I was shocked, because that has not been important to me. The only important thing to me was the next win," Andrews said.

To put her numbers in perspective: If a first year coach started out in 2014 and won 28 games a year for the next 51 years, Andrews' record would not be matched until 2065.

“That's a long haul,” she said. “Yes it is, it really is.”

Andrews recalled the days when she played in Granbury in the 1950s, and remembers that her game was exactly molded on the basketball court.

“It’s funny that when my daddy put up a basketball rim, he put it up in the chicken yard,” Andrews said. “Well, I shot the ball and I didn't want it to hit the ground because you know what it would have landed in! I became a great rebounder because I'd go and get the ball.”

Emily Britt, who now coaches at Granbury as well, played for Andrews in the late 90s, and will never forget the coach's special little sayings.

"'Well I’ll be dog flitter,' which means you didn't do something right and you better correct it,” Britt explained. “I think 'Katie bar the door,' means the same thing — if you don't correct it, it's going to be bad."

“Every day there is a life lesson,” said Morgan Northcutt, a senior guard on this year's team. “It’s not just basketball; we get life skills, too. She expects your best, and if it’s not your best, she'll put someone in who can do their best.”

The career accomplishments of Leta Andrews are unmatched. There's even talk about her story showing up on the big screen someday. Now that would be an honor.

“There's been a documentary that's being almost completed at this time,” Andrews said. “They've mentioned the fact that this would make a good movie, and so we're going to see where it goes.

“I would like to think that every individual that I’ve touched somehow... some way... I made them a better person.”

E-mail griba@wfaa.com

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