Turnovers … by Alan B. Gibson

Posted April 26, 2022 at 1:30 pm

All good things must come to an end

It was a solemn few moments last week when CCHS Head Boys’ Basketball coach Todd Messer informed me that he was leaning hard toward hanging up his whistle after his 16th season had come to a close.

It was 2006 when Todd first came to Albany with his wife Amanda to take over the boys’ coaching job after Darrell Thompson had announced he was stepping down.

I have worked close with a host of coaches during the past four decades plus that I’ve been writing sports at the Clinton County News, and sitting at the official table in the capacity of Public Address Announcer.

Some I get close to, others not so much, but often we develop a relationship that can be described as a true friendship rather than a working kinship.

With Todd, it has been different because we hit it off from the git-go and what has developed over the past 16 years, both with him and his girls (wife Amanda and daughters Lexi and Aubrie) was a true friendship between our entire families.

That personal relationship aside, what made Todd stand out as our head coach was the way he was able to motivate his players not only to the point of winning basketball games when often we were the least talented team on the floor collectively, but the way he inspires his boys to give it everything they have from the word “go”.

But teaching young men to be members of a team atmosphere wasn’t even Todd’s strongest point – his strongest point was making his players grow as human beings, bringing out the best in them and making them see that doing the right thing in life is much more important in the long run than chalking up victories.

One of the best examples of this came during a conversation I had one day with one of Todd’s former players, who relayed to me in essence . . . “I didn’t even play for Coach Messer my senior year, because frankly I just wasn’t good enough, but because of the way he has influenced me when I was a part of the team, I want to be a teacher and a coach when I grow up so I can be a positive influence on some young person as he was with me.”

It just doesn’t get any better than that, folks, and that’s not the only story of that nature that I have first hand knowledge of.

No high school coach of any sport, on any level, will ever have 100 percent of the community’s backing – it’s just the nature of the beast, and Todd, like every other coach who led Big Blue teams into battle, has had and still has his group of naysayers.

For the most part, playing time – or lack thereof – is the main culprit for those who disagree with his coaching tactics, because like I’ve said here time and time again, it’s the Michael Jordan syndrome in that every parent thinks they’ve raised the answer to the game and every team should be built around Little Michael.

More often than not – it just ain’t so, and Todd recognizes that as well – and while he hasn’t said so to me, I’m going to suspect having to deal with that had a bearing on his decision to hang it up after 16 years of leading the Bulldogs into battle.

Still, it’s hard to argue with his success. Reaching the 4th Region tournament 13 times in 16 years is a feat that Clinton County fans hadn’t enjoyed for several decades. In fact, to put together the 13 regional tournament trips that came prior to Todd’s 2006 arrival, you have to string together seasons all the way back to the 1961-62 season – in other words, it would take a stretch of 44 seasons to collectively put together Clinton County’s prior 13 trips to the regional tournament.

Then consider coaching 16 seasons and putting together eight seasons of 20 plus wins, with four more years of 18 wins.

Now, tell me he wasn’t the best thing we’ve ever had for the program.

All of that aside, it’s his sincere concern and desire to make better men out of the boys he is handed every year that makes Todd the better man, and going out on top, as he is doing, is the way to do it – if you feel it’s time. And Todd feels it’s time.

Most of all, while I’m proud to have had the relationship with him I’ve enjoyed for the past 16 years, sitting five feet from his immediate left during our home basketball games, I’m more proud of the relationship I’ve had in our living rooms, my back deck and on the banks of Dale Hollow Lake.

That’s a relationship that I am looking forward to continuing for many more years to come.

Thanks Todd, for putting the young men of our basketball program first and foremost in your game plan, thanks for making our program one of the most respected in the region and state, but most of all – thanks for being a great friend. To myself and my entire family.

Good luck, my friend.

In the meantime – March is over, so tell me what you think.