South Jordan • Rand Rasmussen already knows his son won’t understand.
The Bingham girls’ basketball coach is 39 wins away from breaking the state’s all-time record for victories.That’s basically two seasons for the Miners.
Why retire? Why now?
The 61-year-old Rasmussen knows what he’ll say to his son, Nate Rasmussen, who is now a baseball coach.
“He’s going to understand eventually the journey you go on, what you do for the kids, that’s 10 times more important than breaking a record,” he said. “If I need to break a record to show I’m a good coach, I’m not in it for the right reasons.”
Rasmussen announced Friday he would step down as girls’ basketball coach at Bingham after 24 seasons and a 465-97 record, including four state championships.
He moved to Utah in the 1980s without a paid coaching job, working as a part-time painter and volunteer assistant before being hired to lead the Miners. A title winner in his first year in 1990, he went on to lead the Miners to the top in 1994, 1995 and 2007 as well.
After directing the Miners to a 23-1 record this past season, he decided it was high time to step back. He had a hip replacement in the summer, and coaching has had an aggravating effect on his body, he said.
Rasmussen also said he wants to spend more time with his wife and his dogs, and be able to visit his sons and grandchildren more freely.
“I have a 3-year-old and a 1-year-old, and the 1-year-old hasn’t met me yet,” he said. “I want to be able to spend time with them.”
Not everyone always has warmed up to the man with a crotchety exterior, a coach who describes himself as “old-school.” He has cultivated a reputation as an intense coach and has an unvarnished bluntness that can rub the wrong way.
Layton’s Van Price, another coach who has been on the grind for more than two decades, didn’t like Rasmussen when they first met. But over the years, they’ve become close friends who play each other every year around the holidays.
Price coached the team that knocked Bingham out of the state tournament this year, ending the Miners’ perfect season to that point. He said he had only an inkling at the time that it could be the final chapter in Rasmussen’s career.
“I was elated for my girls and my school, but I also hurt for him,” Price said. “The people who don’t like him don’t know him. He’s not about the wins. He’s about the players and the success stories they create, and not just in the basketball court, but in life.”
Price also pointed to Rasmussen as one of the leaders in making girls’ sports treated with equal weight as boys’ athletics. As recently as this season, Rasmussen was among the coaches who spoke up against a perceived imbalance in officiating crews.
Rasmussen has said he’ll remain an assistant baseball coach and a teacher at the school. His classroom, decorated with blown-up newspaper clippings from seasons passed and with jerseys from the 56 scholarship players he coached, will remain a tribute to his long tenure at Bingham.
For his last game against Layton, Rasmussen said 27 ex-players came to watch. For him, that kind of devotion and attitude from his players kept him coaching for this long.
“When the season is over, the boys come up and shake your hand — girls hug,” he said. “When you don’t have any sisters or daughters, that hug can feel pretty good. ... The girls have always felt a certain way about sports. They have a great camaraderie and chemistry with each other.”
Rand Rasmussen leaves behind legacy at Bingham
By the numbers, the Miners’ coach has had a rich career:
• 24 seasons as Bingham’s head coach
• 465-97 record with the Miners
• 14 region titles
• 13 semfinal appearances
• Four state titles (1990, 1994, 1995, 2007)
• 56 college scholarship players
• 73 all-state players
• Two Gatorade players of the year
• Only 29 losses at home