Girls Basketball: Joe Lang retiring after 40 seasons leading Ready Silver Knights
A couple weeks after his team lost to Mount Gilead 49-20 in the first round of the Division III district tournament Feb. 17, Ready girls basketball coach Joe Lang began putting together an offseason schedule and looking ahead to next season, as he has done for the last four decades.
But something felt different this time.
“I began to work on stats, next year’s schedule and goals for spring and summer workouts,” Lang said. “I just didn’t feel as excited about those things as I usually do. I looked at the calendar and saw we were going to start spring workouts April 13 and I thought it (seemed) like the season had just ended. I was trying to generate some fire, but it just wasn’t catching. I knew then if I wasn’t excited, that’s not fair to the kids. I just feel out of gas.”
On April 6, Lang told his team that he was retiring after a 48-year coaching career that included 40 seasons leading the Silver Knights.
“(It’s) time for a fresh face to take over,” Lang said. “(There have been) 130 girls that have graduated from the program in 40 years. I will never forget any of them. It’s been an honor and privilege to be associated with all of them while representing Bishop Ready.”
Lang, a 1973 Ready graduate who played for the boys team, took over as the girls coach in 1981-82 and had the longest current tenure leading a girls program in the Central District.
The Knights went 534-366 under Lang, winning Division III district championships in 1988, 2000, 2006, 2007 and 2014. They also won six CCL titles.
In 2020-21, Ready endured three quarantines because of COVID-19 cases and was able to play only 10 games, finishing 2-8, but Lang made it clear to his players that the season’s difficulties weren’t the reason he’s retiring.
“In all honesty, I’ve been wrestling with it for the past three years,” he said. “I was originally planning on going out when Dani Hall graduated (in 2018). That was a year where that group just overachieved (and was a district runner-up), finishing 15-10, so I still felt excited about coaching the next year. During that season, I was starting to notice that the season was beginning to take a little bit more out of me. I guess for the first time, I thought, ‘Hey, you’re not 26 anymore.’ ”
Ready won its first CCL title in 1982-83 and captured three consecutive league championships from 1989-91.
The Knights went a combined 58-15 with two district titles and a district runner-up finish from 2005-07 and were a combined 53-22 from 2014-16 with a district title and two district runner-up finishes.
In 2016, Ready lost to eventual state runner-up Marion Pleasant 52-51 in two overtimes in a district final.
“I can’t let that game go,” Lang said. “It was stolen from us. I loved coaching that team. They were so tough, so talented, so smart and so fun to be around.”
Lang also had served as the school’s director of admissions until retiring after the 2019-20 school year.
“Coach Lang was loyal and cared about all of the students at Bishop Ready High School,” athletics director Steve McQuade said. “He will truly be missed. It’s going to be extremely hard to fill his shoes. He’s given his heart and soul to the Bishop Ready girls basketball program. We wish coach Lang the best.”