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Former state champion boys basketball coach Lee Ott switches over to coach girls at Claremore-Sequoyah

The successful Oklahoma Union boys coach has never coached a girls team.

By Buck Ringgold

Lee Ott has never coached girls basketball, having coached boys his whole career.

For a variety of reasons, though, he will now switch over to coaching girls basketball. 

Ott leaves the boys program at Oklahoma Union - where he led the Cougars to the Class 2A state championship in 2021 - to take over the girls program at Sequoyah High School in Claremore, which is also his alma mater.

He will be joined by his wife Crissy, who will serve as an assistant for both the Lady Eagle basketball and softball programs. Crissy Ott spent 17 seasons at Oklahoma Union as an assistant coach for the girls basketball team and was also the school's volleyball coach, leading the Lady Cougars to 10 state tournament appearances.

"I almost went to Sequoyah about seven or eight years ago and it just didn't feel right, so just (the right) timing," said Lee Ott, who graduated from Sequoyah in 1993. "I've been at Oklahoma Union for 13 years, my wife 17 so it was hard to leave; we've made a lot of connections, and they helped with the raising of our kids. We just felt like it was time to start a new chapter."

Another reason Ott decided to make the transition to girls basketball is the opportunity to coach his daughter, Brooklynne. Lee Ott had coached his two sons, Jace and Kade, while at Oklahoma Union.

"My daughter is going to be in junior high," Ott said. "We told our administration (at Oklahoma Union) last May that once Kade (his youngest son) graduates this year, we would probably look for a girls job to coach her together.

"We know with her being in junior high, we still had a couple of years, but the timing just seemed right. It's hard to find a place where they'll take both you and your spouse; those opportunities don't come along very often."

Plus, Ott is very familiar with girls basketball.

His dad, Rick Ott, was a legendary girls basketball coach in Oklahoma, having won more than 550 games in a career that spanned 35 years before he passed away in 2016. Several years later, he was inducted into the Oklahoma Coaches Association Hall of Fame.

Rick Ott also coached Crissy Ott at Claremore-Sequoyah when she played basketball and softball. Crissy graduated from Sequoyah in 1997.

Lee Ott's sister, Amanda Ott Henderson, is currently the girls basketball coach at Catoosa and played for her father when he coached at Tahlequah-Sequoyah. Also, Lee and Amanda's brother, Derick, is an assistant boys basketball coach at Verdigris, right down the road from Claremore-Sequoyah.

"My dad coached girls his whole career, and so I've been around it," Lee Ott said. "My sister coaches girls, and then I'll have my wife with me. ... So I'll have her there to kind of handle the female side of things.

"We've got our two boys graduated and I'll have a daughter coming up, and now it's time to put the focus on her."

Lee Ott had been the boys basketball coach at Oklahoma Union for the past eight seasons, having been promoted from assistant. He led the Cougars to 160 wins.

In the 2020-21 season, Oklahoma Union finished 25-2 and won the 2A state championship, 64-54, against Howe, the only state title in program history.

"It's hard to fathom from where you started to actually winning the last game of your season," Ott said. "People don't understand how hard it is just to get there, much less win it.

"It was a heck of a journey; you look back on it, we still reflect like, 'Wow, we accomplished something not many people in Oklahoma or northeast Oklahoma have done.'"

Last season, the Cougars went 24-5 and returned to the state tournament before falling in the quarterfinals to Morrison.

"I know we've had a roller coaster of emotions leaving and making the announcement and talking to the kids from Oklahoma Union this week and the community, but we've had a lot of support from them," Ott said. "The people up there are great, but we also have a lot of connections with Sequoyah that we're going to kind of renew, so to speak, and it pulls us closer to the family, so it's kind of a win-win."

Ott will be taking over a Lady Eagles program that finished 15-12 and reached the regional consolation finals in 3A but are losing their starting five to graduation.

"I think this last season was the first winning season they've had in eight years," he said. "Now, we're going to have a young crew because I think they graduated five starters, so we're going to have our work cut out for us, but we're looking forward to it.

"The girls program, in the '80s and the '90s and early 2000s, they were pretty successful. They didn't have any state championships, but they were making deep runs into area and knocking on the state tournament's door; I think they went to state once or twice. But we want to try to push Sequoyah's girls athletics back to what they were."

Ott's two sons were both all-state selections playing for him at Oklahoma Union. Jace Ott currently plays at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma in Chickasha.

Now, Lee Ott is eager to get the chance down the road to coach his daughter, who will be entering the seventh grade.

"I know my daughter's excited, and she's ready to get in there," Lee Ott said. "She gets to start playing school ball next year and she plays competitive out of Tulsa, and now she gets to go put a uniform on for the school like her brothers and that's what she keeps talking about.

"It's a good school, it's a good community. A lot of the people I went to school with, their younger siblings, it's their kids that are cycling back through, and we want to try to put it back on the map."

Lee and Crissy Ott aren't the only new coaches coming to Claremore-Sequoyah. The school also recently named new boys basketball and volleyball coaches.

Tim Bart, an Oklahoma Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame inductee, will take over the boys basketball program.

He had spent 14 seasons as the coach at Bartlesville, leading the Bruins to a 241-104 record, before stepping down in 2014 to remain with the school as athletic director, where he served until 2017. Bart takes over an Eagle program that went 25-3 last season before falling in the area consolation round.

Then, former Bixby volleyball coach Zoe Kersey was named the Lady Eagles' new volleyball coach. She has led teams to two regional championships and two state tournament appearances.