Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Boatwright Left Lasting Impression

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Boatwright Left Lasting Impression

Article excerpt

In her last game as a basketball coach, after a 24-year career at Keystone Heights, Kathy Boatwright saw something she had never witnessed before on the court.

Her girls had just lost 50-43 in early February to Alachua Santa Fe in the District 5-3A semifinals, and had managed to outscore the Raiders from the field. But the Indians didn't make one trip to the line during the whole game.

"I can't remember a game where one team didn't go to the line," said Boatwright. "It was an odd night."

And a tough end to a coaching career. While she will still teach history at the school, Boatwright decided to retire from the court late last month. The decision caps a coaching career that saw her claim three state titles and make eight trips to the final four. After being an assistant on the Fletcher team that won the first-ever 4A title in state history in '76, she took the Indians to the Class 2A title game where they were defeated by Pensacola Catholic in her inaugural year as head coach in '77.

"She said she would be a player's coach," said Nease coach Sherri Anthony, who was a junior point guard on Boatwright's '77 team. "She was very approachable, just one one-liner after another. Kids would go over and have dinner at her house. There's a strong tradition at Keystone, but it's there because we didn't want to lose for her. You put your heart on the line every time you stepped on the floor."

As a result, Boatwright enjoyed tremendous success at Keystone. She won 524 games against 170 losses and was rewarded with state titles in '94, '95 and '97. She also established her teams as tough postseason opponents, making 17 trips to the state playoffs and recording a 30-14 record during the postseason.

The past season saw a downturn from her previous success. With only three players on the 2000 squad returning from the '99 team, Boatwright saw her young team struggle to a 9-20 record.

"There are so many things for kids to do today," Boatwright said. "It's harder to get a commitment from the kids to build a championship team. Those that did come out showed much improvement, which was a nice way to leave. …

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