A longtime assistant basketball coach at Rocky Mountain High School was honored last week by being named by the Wyoming Coaches Association as the Boys Basketball Assistant Coach of the Year for all classifications in Wyoming.
Pat Winland was named in an announcement by the WCA last Friday, March 31.
Winland has been a Rocky Mountain assistant (and head) coach for 20 years, starting as a volunteer assistant for brother Tim Winland for the 1996-97 boys basketball season following his graduation from the University of Wyoming in the fall of ’96. Since then he has “always gone above and beyond the call of duty,” Rocky head boys basketball coach Michael Simmons wrote in a letter of nomination.
“He is always looking for things which need to be taken care of prior to being asked,” Simmons wrote.
A fifth-grade teacher at Rocky Mountain Elementary School, Winland has coached various sports since his arrival in the school system in 1997, when he was hired as a Title One aid before moving into classroom teaching the next year, 1998, teaching third grade in Frannie. During Simmons’ 12 years as head boys basketball coach, Winland has been at his side for nine of the 12 seasons, usually as the head junior varsity coach and occasionally as the freshman coach.
When Simmons was too ill to accompany the Grizzlies to a conference game in Shoshoni on the last weekend of the regular season in February, Winland filled in as head coach and led the Grizz to victory.
“You can imagine how upset I was with the thought of missing our last conference game, which would dictate our seeding going into Regionals,” Simmons wrote. “A win and we secure second. A loss and we move to fourth. I was never concerned with Coach Winland’s abilities and always felt comfortable with him taking the team.
“Long story short, we won and won big (78-59). The kids played great and we proceeded on to Regionals in which Coach Winland continued to assume a lot of the duties as I slowly regained my health. He was awesome in every way imaginable, never once looking for credit and only being concerned with the program and my health.”
Simmons said he has worked with Winland for many years and has been a valuable right-hand man.
“Things aren’t as hectic when Pat’s around,” he said. “With his experience as head football coach he realizes some things that not all coaches realize. When he came back from that stint he became even more conscientious and aware of the little details.
“I’ve always said when nobody cares who gets the credit it’s amazing how much good can be done. Pat magnifies that. He always has the best interest of the program in mind…He has taken an increased role with my personal kids (Cannon, Cole and Travis). I’d trust him with anything.”
Rocky Athletic Director Tobee Christiansen also had praise for Winland.
“Pat is about as loyal an assistant coach as a person could have,” he said. “He always tries to think ahead about what needs to get done and takes things off your plate. He did a good job taking over for Michael when he was sick.”
By David Peck