By Stan Veitch/Sports Correspondent
In 1995, Tony Osborne took over a Westbrook Christian football program that had been a revolving door for coaches for many years.
Needless to say, Osborne gave the program stability in coaching for 20 years.
Last Friday (Oct. 30), Osborne officially retired, so that he can put all of his time into the Big Oak Girls Ranch in Springville, where he is now director.
Osborne has spent several years as a house parent at the ranch.
“I got into coaching because God led me to it,” Osborne said. “Now he is leading me somewhere else. I’m excited for the future. After 21 seasons, it’s been great. We have made some great memories. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”
There has been no mention of Osborne’s possible successor yet, but Osborne feels confident that the right coach will be hired. Osborne also served as athletic director and assistant principal at Westbrook for several years.
Former Warrior quarterback Brodie Croyle, who now heads up the Big Oak Boys Ranch in Ohatchee, made the retirement official during pre-game festivities on Friday.
Croyle is Osborne’s most celebrated alumnus, as he went on to play for the University of Alabama and the Kansas City Chiefs. But Osborne said that every player has been special in his own way.
A 1981 graduate of Southside High, Osborne finished with a career record of 121-106, including a 75-48 mark in region play. He won five region titles, including three in a row from 1997-99 with Croyle at quarterback. The 1997 Warriors went 12-3 and were state runners-up in Class 1A. Westbrook made the state playoffs 12 times under Osborne.
Osborne, who also was the Westbrook girls basketball coach from 1999-203, was selected as the Alabama Sports Writers Association’s Class 1A Coach of the Year in 1997.
“It’s bittersweet,” Osborne said. “But I coached some really great kids who grew up into great men. There are so many memories.”
Westbrook assistant principal, athletic director and head baseball coach Matt Kennedy noted that Osborne will still be involved in the school but in a different capacity.
“Brodie described Tony as a man of integrity, and that’s the one thing that I can take away from him, too,” said Kennedy. “As a coach, Tony taught me how to react in the right way to different situations. Also, people now will do anything to win ball games, but Tony always worked with whatever kids were enrolled instead of going out and recruiting a bunch of guys. That by itself speaks very well of how Tony represented the program and the school. He always had a calm and collected demeanor that brought stability, and I think that will be his legacy and will also serve him well at the girls ranch.”
Kennedy added that the search for Osborne’s replacement would begin shortly.
Chris McCarthy contributed to this story