Coach’s homophobic taunt forces him to reconsider the weight of words

Lynch said he had returned from watching college players in an open gym during the early months of the pandemic, wondering if he still had a basketball career, when he received a text message from Turner. Lynch recalled the incident with King, which he called a mistake, but said he had gone through the game enough to know that coaches are always looking for a perceived advantage, that he whether it’s signing a rookie, scheduling a game, calling a play – or trying to step into an opponent’s shoes.

A few days later, Lynch and Turner spoke on the phone.

They talked about the events that brought them together — Lynch’s coming out and Turner’s taunting — but the conversation quickly turned to basketball. They talked about defensive schemes, recruitment and player development. Turner, who spent a year as a female assistant at the University of San Francisco, encouraged Lynch to pursue a female assistant position at North Carolina-Wilmington, which he did in 2020-21.

“The truth is, he just made me feel like a basketball coach,” Lynch said of his conversations with Turner, who he said introduced him to his team. “At the end of the day, I just want to coach basketball; I don’t want to be the gay basketball coach.

Turner also learned common sense from Lynch. Disappointed that college coaches weren’t responding to portfolios he mailed in a bid to break into coaching, Lynch invested a few hundred dollars in an iPad, loaded his gear on it, and sent it to Youngstown. State. He thought at least the iPad—along with his resume—wouldn’t end up in the trash. The scheme helped him land his first male Division I job, as a video coordinator at Youngstown State. He did the same at UNC Wilmington.

That kind of boldness — the edge, as Turner described it — is essential for anyone navigating the ultra-competitive world of college basketball. It is present in multiple ways, including the way coaches talk to players: the language they use to describe rosy possibilities when recruiting, in heartless discussions about playing time, or in intense instructions, sometimes graphics, on practices or caucuses.

Turner says while he’s demanding, he’s in tune with his players – he notes few leave his program; the recent four-year retention rate was 98%.

He’s also more careful with his words, though he thinks it’s important to get players’ attention, sometimes using explicit terms.

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