When Brian Young sealed his letter to Tivy Athletic Director David Jones inside an envelope on Saturday, he immediately called his two assistant coaches, Ray Fierro and Joe Davis.
The Tivy boys basketball coach wanted them to be the first to know about the content of the correspondence — his intention to retire from coaching at the end of the school year.
He gave the letter to Jones on Sunday and told his players on Monday morning.
Young said he knows this was an ideal time to retire. His youngest son, Jackson Young, is set to graduate from Tivy this year and is going to play basketball at Texas A&M in the fall. He wants to watch Jackson’s college games, but he also wants to spend more time with his wife, his parents and his three sons.
Still, it is going to be hard to say goodbye to a place he’s loved for 25 years.
Young said he has cherished the community — all three of his sons grew up in Kerrville and attended Tivy. He has loved all of his players, and he has treasured his time working with Davis and Fierro.
Davis admitted he wept like a baby when Young informed him of his decision. Young himself grew emotional during the phone call.
“Man, we’ve had some unbelievably good times together,” Fierro said.
Young considers that to be an understatement.
During his 25-year Tivy tenure, he has posted a 523-261 record (66.7%) and has made three appearances in the regional semifinals. He has also earned a reputation for his competitive drive, his intense demeanor during games and his various superstitions. In his final season, the Antlers advanced to the regional quarterfinals for the first time since 2010.
“We have the best kids in Texas,” Young said. “I will always bleed blue and gold, and TFND will always be a phrase ingrained in my mind. … There is no way to explain the closeness and uniqueness to the family at Tivy High School.”
He’s also grateful the community has accepted his unorthodox coaching style. His Tivy teams routinely defeated more talented teams in the San Antonio and Austin metropolitan areas by playing a disciplined brand of basketball: They slowed the game’s tempo, ran methodical half-court sets and embraced defending the basket. Those strong defensive performances were partly a product of Young’s scouting reports on Tivy’s opponents; former Boerne Champion coach Stan Leech joked that Young knew Champion’s sets better than he did.
Young also enjoyed playing mental games with his opponents. He once made his freshman coach measure the height of Boerne Champion’s rims because he thought they were too low.
And he had his superstitions. When Young first began coaching, he wrapped a towel around his wrist during games to help him handle stress, clenching the cloth during tense situations. When he arrived at Tivy in 1996, the school gave him three towels. He discarded the first two after Tivy failed to make the playoffs his first two seasons. He kept the third towel with him during his third season. When the Antlers finally advanced to the postseason, Young became convinced the towel brought good luck.
For the next 22 years, he had that towel wrapped around his wrist every game; he never washed it during that span.
“The worst thing that happened to me is that they hired Brian Young,” said Leech, who coached against Young for 22 seasons. “Kerrville had not beaten Boerne for 10 years — that’s 20 wins in a row — until Brian came. … His offensive schemes gave his teams a chance to win every year. They played great defense and were always physical. He made his kids mentally tough.
“It’s a sad day for Texas basketball and it’s a sad day for Kerrville basketball, but a good one for Boerne basketball.”
Leech and Young’s assistant coaches also knew about the Tivy coach’s softer side. Young has served as a mentor to Davis throughout the latter’s coaching career. When Leech retired from coaching, he asked Young to speak at his retirement party. Young’s parents usually drive 3.5 hours from Goliad to watch him coach, and Young always makes an effort to embrace them after games.
“He’s a great man,” Davis said. “That’s what people don’t see about him. They see the coaching. They see the yelling, they see him clinch the towel, but they don’t see him behind closed doors. He’s an amazing man and an amazing mentor. … Now people will be able to see the side of him that I see all the time. When he’s not coaching any more, he can be the teddy bear that he’s always been.”