March 15, 2014

Edelen to exit Lady Chicks basketball at school year's end

Adam Troxtell
The Express-Star


On top of an end to the season, Chickasha's loss to East Central on Thursday at state also marked the end of the Christy Edelen era.

The four-year Lady Chicks head coach said she will be joining her husband, Jay, at the end of the current school year as he takes up the Arapaho schools superintendent job. She will go there to teach math and shed the hectic schedule of a coach, at least for the time being, to concentrate more on raising her two children.

"This wasn't something we were searching for, it just kind of fell in our laps," Edelen said. "My kids are getting older and I feel like it's time for me to really be there. I look forward to the challenge of teaching and then heading out to watch my kids play."

Edelen came to Chickasha in 2010 from Medford, Oklahoma, where her husband was a principal. He then took up the superintendent job at Pioneer, where he worked during her tenure as head coach. She also brought with her three years of head coaching experience from the Kingfisher girls' basketball program, where they reached the state tournament every year under her tutelage.

Edelen said the opportunity at Arapaho came up about a month ago and the team was aware by Thursday night that she would be leaving at the end of the season. But after four years with the team — meaning she oversaw the high school basketball careers of seniors Alex Stewart and Maddy Irving from beginning to end — nothing makes leaving any easier.

"You invest so much time into these kids and watch them grow," Edelen said. "That's always going to make this decision very hard. Every time you take a job, you want to leave it in a better position. To watch the program grow to the point where we came within an overtime loss of the stat tournament and then got into the first round of state, it's very fulfilling."

When Edelen — a Verden native — arrived in Chickasha, the team had hit a barren spell. She said the challenge of building the program up piqued her interest, and to see it progress with assistant coaches Chad Beery and, for the past two years, Miranda Stewart, has been a  blessing.

"I always had that desire to go somewhere and make a difference," Edelen said. "When coach Beery and I started, the team before us won two games and lost 80 percent of their scoring. So, when we had just four wins in our first season, it was something."

Edelen said she will not have any say in deciding her successor, but she has full faith Athletic Director Yohance Brown will find a perfect match for the upward-trending Lady Chicks. 

Chickasha fans gave her a nice sendoff at the final game of the season at the state tournament in Sapulpa, where a healthy contingent of purple cheered on the first Lady Chicks team to reach state in nearly 20 years. Edelen said it's just another example of the community support she and all the high school sports teams receive.

"Chickasha will always get behind their athletes," she said. "We knew we'd have a big crowd there. That's the exciting thing about basketball for me; it really ties the community and school together. Other sports do that ,as well, but in my experience that's just one of those things that basketball does really well."