State Hall of Fame comes calling for Lander Valley High School's Ragan

Apr 21, 2013 By Bruce Tippets, Sports Editor

The longtime Lander Valley High School coach will be inducted this summer.

Mike Ragan learned this week that he will be inducted into the Wyoming Coaches Association Hall of Fame this summer at a banquet in Casper.

Ragan has been on the sidelines on the basketball court and on the football field for Lander Valley High School since the 1999 season.

Ragan's coaching career covers 36 years.

His journey includes stops in Wheatland, Riverton, Casper and Lander. Ragan has been on the coaching staff of state and regional championships teams.

"Lander has been a great school," Ragan said. "The main thing is, it has been good to me. It has been great for my own kids. It has been an ideal setting for them to grow up in."

Ragan was a coach at Casper Natrona and Riverton before he moved to LVHS.

"I don't think Casper would have been bad," Ragan said. "But Lander is the perfect size. You can do whatever you want to do. Whatever sport you want to play, you can play. It's the perfect situation."

When Ragan isn't coaching, he is teaching the students in math and weightlifting.

"It's just fun to be in the classroom and see the kids in different places than the athletic field," Ragan said. "I don't know if you have a better job being a teacher or a coach. I'm going to do it until they don't let me."

Hall of Fame

"To me, it means that you have lasted a long time," Ragan said. "You have been able to coach a lot of different kids in a lot of different sports."

Ragan will be one five of new coaches to make the Wyoming Coaches Association Hall of Fame this summer.

"The way that they do it is that they do a point system the coaches have to qualify for," Ragan said. "You have to have so many years of experience. You have to have so many conference and state championships."

The other coaches this year include Big Lehr from Big Piney, Cokeville's Bill Thompson, Lingle-Fort Laramie's Mike Lashley and Steve Holzer from Jackson.

Thompson is the head volleyball coach at Cokeville High School. Holzer is the alpine ski coach at Jackson. Lehr is currently the athletic director at Big Piney. Lashley has served as the head volleyball, head boys track, assistant girls and boys basketball, assistant wrestling coach and athletic director.

Double sports

"In football you just have more kids," Ragan said. "You have to have more organization. There are more coaches. You have to divide the work up among the coaches."

Ragan is on the girls coaching staff for LVHS coach Spike Robinson. The Tigers placed fourth at the Class 3-A West regional tournament in Powell to qualify for the state tournament.

At state, LVHS went 1-2 in the double-elimination bracket.

"Basketball, you have fewer kids," Ragan said. "One or two guys can handle that. In football, there are so many people that you take care of. It's just a little harder sport to coach."

Ragan is a defensive coordinator for LVHS head coach Doug Hughes.

"In every other place that I coach, I was the offensive coordinator," Ragan said. "If I was the head coach, then I called the plays. When I came to Lander, the defensive job was open. It was the first time that I ever coached defense."

Coaching his kids

Ragan has had the opportunity to coach his sons, Trevor and Eric Ragan, in football and basketball.

He was the assistant girls basketball coach for his daughters, Ali and Kristi Ragan.

"I was just lucky that I got to coach my kids," Ragan said. "My first 16 years of coaching, I coached other kids. It was great and awesome. I really didn't think that I would ever coach my own kids until I moved to Lander."

Trevor and Eric Ragan were part of Class 3-A state basketball championships for the Tigers. Trevor also played in the Class 3-A football game against Buffalo.

"It was great, but there were some drawbacks of coaching my own kids," Ragan said. "I was harder on them than the other kids. I don't know if they had as much as fun as they could have. It was just great that you could coach your own. The best thing about was watching them in athletic situations to grow up."

The Tiger coach said sports is the best learning environment for student athletes.

"The main thing is that they were with their friends that they have been around 10 years and seeing how happy they were at the end of the game, and they are dog-piling at half-court," Ragan said. "It's a feeling that I wish that every kid could feel that is out for athletics."

Coaches reaction

"Mike is a pleasure to coach with," LVHS head football coach Doug Hughes said. "He will do anything that you ask. He is always there for the kids 12 months of the year and 24 hours a day. It's just a pleasure to work with somebody that has such a focus for the kids."

Hughes and Ragan have been together the past five years on Lander's football coaching staff.

"He has a great insight on what teams like to do," Hughes said. "He has been around long enough that he knows each program well. He is not afraid to get input from other people. He is very deserving of the award. It's just a pleasure for me to work with somebody of his caliber."

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