Kansas coach Steve Odle's career has included three state championships and two second place finishes.

On Saturday, July 22, he'll add one more honor to his resume as he is inducted into the Oklahoma Coaches Hall of Fame at Marriott Tulsa Hotel Southern Hills in Tulsa.

The honor for Odle, who serves as the Kansas High School girls basketball coach, as a recognition from his peers. 

"To be recognized like this is pretty humbling," said Odle. "This induction means the world to me."

Odle began his career in 1981, as an assistant coach at Jay High School. This came after interning in Jay while he was at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah.

During his internship, Odle worked with then head coach Butch Winfield and assistant coach Dewayne Collins.  

"Those two were two of the best in the business," Odle said. "I learned a lot from them they were way ahead of their time. They were teaching post moves back then that no one else was doing.

"Kevin McHale thought he invented the shake and bake but Winfield was teaching that back in the 1970's."

After Winfield retired, and Collins became the head coach, Odle moved into a regular coaching position. 

"I was lucky enough to get the assistant coaching job there," Odle said. "I also got the head softball coaching job there and coached from 1981 to 1983."

In 1983, Odle left to become the girl's head coach at Grove High School - a position he held for 14 years. 

"In the two years I was at Jay we lost only like three games. Then I go to Grove and the program was down," Odle said. "I think I lost that many in a week when I first started. But we after a while we improved and had some success."

In 1994, Odle began Grove's softball program. The team was the state runner-up in 1995 and state champion in 1996. 

"We couldn't win much at first in softball but then I got a really good pitcher and then we started to win some," Odle said.

Odle went to state one year in girls basketball while at Grove. In 1996-97 he had to learn a whole new game when girls basketball switched from six-on-six to five-on-five.

"Larry Shackelford was the boys basketball coach at Grove back then and he taught me a lot about the five-on-five game," said Odle. "I had a number of good players in Grove while I was there and also had several that made all state. Had some good athletes at Grove."

While at Grove, Odle was the assistant track coach and helped the team earn two state championships.

In 1976, Odle found himself with an opportunity he could not resist. The 1976 graduate of Kansas High School was given the chance to return home to be near his parents, J.P. and Betty Odle.  

"I got a chance to come back and live closer to my parents and help my dad on the farm," Odle said, who has spent the last 20 years coaching for his alma mater. 

"When I got here they had only won one game the year before. But I felt if I could get some good players started then I could win some games," Odle said. "I got some young players in, then a good move in, and things started to go our way.

"After I was here a couple of years we started a pretty good run and it continues now."

During Odle's tenure, his players have competed in the area tournament for 18 straight years, attended the state tournament 12 times - bringing home the top prize three times and state runner-up twice. 

"When I took the job my brother Phil, who is now my assistant, asked me why I took it," Odle said. "He said it would take awhile to win.

"But that is not why I moved down here and accepted the job. It was because of family that I came back. The job was just a bonus."

Life off the court

Odle and his father, J.P., have a farm in rural Delaware County, running about 150 cows plus calves.

For Odle, this means carrying for the cattle, and bailing up to 900 bales of hay a year. 

Odle believes life on the family's farm helped set him up for success in life.

"Growing up we helped my dad and my uncle on the farm," Odle said. "We had square bales back then so I spent a lot of summers hauling hay.

"I also helped other people haul their hay back then to earn some spending money. I think I got three cents a bale back then."

Even when living in Grove, Odle remained attached to the farm.

"When I had kids of my own and I was in Grove I would let my kids raise calves on the bottle and then I would take them to my dad," Odle said. "He would trade them out. He would give my kids a calf he had for the ones we brought him. He didn't want anything new coming in so he would sell them."

Now, Odle works with the horses and cattle, while his father focuses on raising hogs.

"I think still having the farm is good for my dad. It gives him a purpose everyday," Odle said. "They live in town now but he gets up everyday and drives out to check on the cows and other animals. I think that is good for him."

Life lessons

During a basketball game, Odle never quits coaching, a reflection of how his farm background impacts his coaching ability. 

"When you get on a tractor to start cutting or baling hay you may start at five or six in the morning and not get done until six or seven that night," Odle said. "I coach the same way. I don't stop.

"Even if we are up by 30 or down by 30, I continue to coach the girls on the court. You don't stop until you are finished."

Family plays an important role in Odle's life. 

"I get to be around my dad a lot working with him on the farm and then I coach with my brother Phil," Odle said. "They are probably my two best friends in the whole world.

"I am with one of both of them all the time either farming or coaching. It is real important that we are all getting older."

Odle said some of the skills he uses on the court come from life lessons taught to him by his parents. 

"My coaching has been kind of how I was raised," Odle said. "What my mom or dad said, [that] was kind of how it was. It was the truth and you didn't question it," Odle said. "They were hard working. In the summer you would see my dad lay tile when he wasn't in the classroom teaching or coaching.

"Then we got into farming and that is a job that is never done. I grew up thinking that was just the way it was. I didn't know how that was going to help me later on in life.

"I was always taught if you are going to do something you might as well do it right. Once you started working you worked until you got done."

His parents also taught Odle the value of keeping his word.

"One thing that people know about me is that If I say I am going to do something then I am going to do it," Odle said.

Odle believes his biggest accomplishments are not limited to time on the court or awards on his wall.

"I feel having an impact on a young person's life has been the biggest thing I have achieved," Odle said. "I get letters every now and then and it will be from a former player and they will say that they were dealing with a certain situation and they fall back on something they learned from me.

"[I] had one that told me one time that they were going through something difficult and she said she had played for me and was tough enough to go through anything."

Reflecting on his career

Odle won his first state championship at Kansas in 2002, a feat repeated in 2004 and 2010. His teams came in second in 2003 and 2011.

Odle said winning his first state championship was a defining moment in his life. 

"It was exciting but also kind of surreal," Odle said. "To know that you have put in a lot of time and effort and it has now paid off in the ultimate goal is a great feeling.

"To win a state championship is not just about having the best team but also you have to have a lot of things go right."

In 1997, Odle helped start the Kansas Softball Program. During his coaching tenure he had a record of 548 to 202. 

While things have changed, one thing remains constant - Odle's players.

"Back in the day you could be harder on kids but now a days they are involved in so much that you have to work around things," Odle said. "Their parents spend a lot of money for them to play other sports, or show animals in ag, rodeo or whatever they are doing and you have to work with that to keep them in your program.

"I still have rules but I try to work with everyone. As a coach we have probably adapted more than the kids. You have to give a little bit more now than before. You have to kind of adapt with the times a little bit."

Ultimately, Odle knows his career has benefited from his work ethic - both on and off the court.

"You got to work at it. Say what you say you are going to do and then instill that in your players along with the work ethic and accountability," Odle said. "We think we got a good program here. We are good guys and we are going to treat you right."


Odle and his wife Anita have been married for 35 years. While at Kansas, Odle had the opportunity to coach his daughters. 

"It was good for me. I really enjoyed it. I don't know how good it was for them," he said as he chuckled. "My dad used to get onto me and tell me I was to hard on them."

Odle said his wife's support helped him reach a new level in his career.

"She has been great. I wouldn't have been able to do what I have done without her," Odle said.

Odle's daughter, Kayla, followed his path into education. She works as a girl's basketball coach for Gravette High School in Gravette, Arkansas.

Son, Seth, lives in Kansas and works nearby at a factory. Son Ryan, who resides in Siloam Springs, Arkansas, has a business finance degree. He is employed at a local casino. His daughter, Kasey, is a nurse practitioner who lives in Inola. 

Odle also has six grandchildren, with two on the way.

"My family means the world to me," said Odle.