Photo by Trevor Phibbs, Deseret News
SOUTH JORDAN — In a room decorated floor to ceiling with the kinds of mementos one might find in the scrapbook of a meticulous, sentimental soccer mom, Bingham girls basketball coach Rand Rasmussen delivered an emotional goodbye to his players.
“This is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do because I totally enjoy coaching this basketball team,” said Rasmussen, with his voice cracking as he wiped away tears. “I’ve loved every kid that’s bought into the system that I think is the right one. But, something has to change and I think this is the right time for me.”
Rasmussen explained how coaching kept him from being the grandfather and husband he feels he needs to be.
“I thought of my wife," he said. "For 37 years — (as I’m) trying to get you guys as prepared as I can — she’s home with the two dogs,” he said. “She means absolutely everything to me and that is why I’ve resigned as the head girls’ basketball coach at Bingham.”
The second-longest tenured girls basketball coach in the state is walking away from the sideline just 38 games away from the all-time wins record. He acknowledges that some might not understand why he's willing to walk away from the profession when so close to what for many coaches would be a career-defining milestone.
But as those who know him can attest, he's not one to worry about what other people think.
“When you’re a young coach you put all your emphasis on winning,” Rasmussen said while explaining that he’s more concerned with teaching life lessons.
A three-sport athlete himself, Rasmussen is competitive, driven, strict, loyal, sarcastic, brutally honest and a fierce advocate for women's athletics. Very few people have no opinion of the man who paces in front of his bench coaching with the same intensity regardless of the score.
“I show my affection in different way that most people do – I’m sure,” Rasmussen said during the girls’ basketball class. “I call a spade a spade and sometimes that’s offending. If any of you were bothered by it — I apologize today, because that’s not the intent.”
Love him or hate him, his success is undeniable.
In 24 years as a head coach, he's earned 465 wins and 97 losses. His record in the state tournament was 47-23. His teams have made 13 final four appearances, earned 14 region titles and four state championships.
He's coached two Gatorade Players of the Year and 73 all-state athletes. Fifty-six of his players have earned college scholarships.
He's actually spent 43 years on a sideline, and for seven winters he coached both boys and girls as an assistant.
“He’s like, oh gosh,” Bingham senior Madison Aulai-Roe, her eyes red and wet with tears, said. “He’s like a father figure to me. He’s been there so much in my life. He’s helped me so much in basketball that I can’t even begin to explain.
“He’s more of a friend that’s looking out for us. He’s more than a coach — he’s a friend.”
He treasures every tape, every thank-you card, every stat sheet, every scorebook. T-shirts and jerseys hang from the ceiling honoring the accomplishments of the program's alumni.
"The journey and the stuff you go through along the way is 10 times more important than breaking a record," he said to reporters Thursday before making the announcement to his team. "If I have to break a record to show that I'm a good coach, then I'm in this for the wrong record."
But when all is said and done, he hasn't dedicated his life to women's basketball for any of the records.
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