Minden Press-Herald

Tuesday
Sep 30th

Remembering the life of “Buster” Carlisle, beloved family man, coach

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When coaching legend Clyde "Buster" Carlisle died Monday at the age of 80, he left behind a legacy of love for the sport of basketball and life lessons instilled in his children, grandchildren and the lives of former high school players across the country.

"He gave you a set of tools you needed to be successful," son John Carlisle said. "And taught you how to be successful."

His brother Randy agrees.

"My dad always said, 'the best academics are in the classroom, the best education is on the basketball court,'" Randy said. "You're getting in pressure situations – just like life situations – now, how do you deal with it?"

In 1970, 10 years into his coaching career, Carlisle became the head boys' basketball coach at Minden High School. His team didn't go to a playoff game that first year, but they did win. Carlisle's wife Frances said he told her it was the most gratifying season of his 40-year career.

"Buster was told this team was just a bunch of losers," Frances Carlisle said. "He wanted to prove they were not. He was told they wouldn't win a game, but they did – they had a winning season."

Randy, who was an eighth grader that year, remembers that team.

"Nobody wanted the coaching job in Minden," Randy said. "Basketball was really down."

Bill Jamieson was a senior at Minden High School and center for the Crimson Tide basketball team the first year Carlisle coached in Minden.

"He was a breath of fresh air," Jamieson said. "We went from winning a handful of games our junior year to going 24 and 12 the year Buster came. We weren't great by any stretch of the imagination, but he completely changed the way we thought about what we could do."

Jamieson remembers Carlisle as a coach of the basics – a fundamentals coach.

"He believed we could do more than we believed we could do, which always helps," he said. "He gave us a real gift our senior year, letting us have a good season – a far better season than we would ever have had if he had not been there."

Bill Bagwell was a shooting guard from 1970 to 1972.

"Coach Carlisle motivated us to have a strong desire to win but always treated everyone with respect," Bagwell said. "He challenged us to do the best we could do."

"After that first year, things just kept getting better," Randy, who played point guard for his dad, said. "We went to the state semi-finals in '75."

Bagwell's brother Dick was a guard for Carlisle that semi-finals year and the two leading up to it.

"The 1975 team was the first year Webster High School and Minden High School combined and Coach led us into becoming one team," Dick Bagwell said.  "Even though there were some struggles, he and Coach Bunny Hudson brought us together. I believe that it also helped unite the school as they (student body) supported us as one of the top ranked teams in the state."

Carlisle made a good career out of coaching losers. But that's what attracted him. He knew how to take the losers and make them into winners.

"It was a challenge," Frances said. "He wanted to give them a chance to be successful. He liked to see the progress they made."

"He always went to teams where they haven't won before," granddaughter Bethany Carlisle, also a basketball player, said.

"He was good at making players better than what they are," her dad Randy said. "He would put them in a comfort zone, and he did that by having them change their mindset and believe in themselves."

Randy and his brother John are coaches. John is head boys' basketball coach at a charter school in Dallas where around 90 percent of the students are Hispanic.

"I'm trying to teach them like Dad would teach them ... life lessons," John said. "They're the outcasts of the Dallas Independent School District. They have no family life, so I'm kind of like a father, more than a coach to

them. We made the playoffs last year."

John never played for his father, but at Minden High School, he sat on the bench next to his dad from ages 3 until 7, learning to keep statistics and fuss at the referees.

"I was sitting on the bench when Minden played at Haughton," John said. "I was 7 years old. Dad got mad at the refs and one of them told him 'no more.' So at halftime, I got on the ref."

Randy, who coaches at Hosanna Christian Academy in Baton Rouge, said he never wanted to coach, but he changed his mind when his sister died in 1985.

"Carol always wanted me to coach, so I went to Dad and told him I was going to do it," Randy said. "Dad told me I needed to go to a bad place that's never won and learn how to coach. He made me learn to do stuff on

my own."

Carlisle's grandson Jacob Brown, head girls' basketball coach at Minden High School, said he knew when he graduated high school he wanted to be a coach.

"I always saw the relationships Paw Paw, Uncle Randy and John had with their players," Jacob said. "When I saw that, I thought it was something I wanted to do, and I wouldn't go back and do anything else."

Carlisle taught his family and players the importance of teamwork.

"He said 'when the team truly does not care who gets credit, then the team will enjoy tons of success,'" Jacob said. "And he always said, 'make your teammate an All-American.'"

During his high school playing career, grandson Eric Brown remembers his "Paw Paw" telling him to work hard, no matter what happened.

"He always motivated me to keep my head up ... to keep working hard," Eric said. "And good things would come, whether it was on the basketball court or in life."

 

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