Friends, family, former players and fellow coaches all gathered Monday to honor the first, and most successful, coach ever of the Corbin High School girls’ basketball program.
Willard Farris got the royal treatment between the junior varsity and varsity girls’ basketball games between Corbin and Garrard County. At center court, he was presented with a commemorative plaque, photos from some of his most successful seasons … and Corbin’s newly-elected mayor, Suzie Razmus, even made him an honorary Corbin Colonel, and presented him with a key to the city.
For the old coach, it was quite a night.
“Really, this is remarkable,” Farris said during a reception following the ceremony. “It really pumps you up to see so many people that you’ve enjoyed being around. It’s been a great night for me.”
Farris had instant success when he agreed to start a girls’ basketball program at CHS. During his 11 seasons as head coach, he amassed an impressive 252-86 record. Three times his teams won the 13th Region title and appeared in the Sweet 16 Tournament. They were runner-up twice. The Lady Redhounds won four 50th District Championships under Farris, and were runner-up four times.
Corbin was SEKC conference champions four times, and SEKC tournament champions twice. Farris was named SEKC Coach of the Year four times.
Current Corbin Lady Redhounds coach Isaac Wilson presented Farris with a special plaque. Gary Akins, an assistant under Farris during the 1982 when the team appeared in the Sweet 16, gave Farris framed photos of his team in the tournament.
Farris said he became the first head coach of the program because he was “really the only one that wanted to do it.”
“I just felt like from the start, they have as much right to be doing it as the boys do,” Farris said. “It was just amazing to me how willing the kids were to put in the work. They bought into it right away and we didn’t have any trouble getting it going once they saw what it was going to be like, and the parents saw that things were going to be done like they should be done … that their kids would be taken care of.”
Farris had many other coaching roles at CHS, including as a long-time offensive coordinator for the football team, and an assistant coach on the Redhound baseball team.
But he said coaching girls’ basketball would always hold a special place in his heart.
“Girls are just more enthusiastic,” Farris said. “They were always on time for practice. They loved to play because they had to wait so long before they could do things like this.”
Farris even served as an assistant coach under his successor, and one of his former players, Lesia Wrinn.
“I was more than willing to step aside let her do what she wanted to do. It didn’t bother me at all because I knew she could do it. She was one heck of a player, and she was a great coach too,” Farris said.
Now retired from teaching and coaching, Farris said the fact that so many people showed up Monday to remember his contributions to the program was something he’d never forget.
“It’s neat. This is more than I ever thought would happen,” he said.
“Girls basketball has come a long way at this school,” Farris said. “It was hard at first, and we had some tough times because everywhere else they already had this. Now, I look at it and I know it was all worth it.”