LaFayette coach Bratcher announces family move to Texas, reflects on past decade

Published 10:43 pm Tuesday, May 7, 2019

LaFAYETTE — It was an embrace that was filled with two full years of emotion.

At Tuesday night’s LaFayette High School athletic banquet, girls head basketball coach Michael Bratcher opened up his time at the podium by saying that he’s been in education for decades, and that he’s been at LaFayette for the last 10 years alone. He reflected on some of his former athletes in the crowd, how he either taught or coached them in football or basketball as early as first grade.

The 2017-18 All-Valley Girls Basketball Coach of the Year then warned the crowd that he was an emotional person before he announced to the crowd what many students knew for a few weeks now: His wife, who was a professor at Auburn University, accepted a job to become the new Associate Dean at Texas Tech.  Bratcher said that the career leap for his wife is about 10 years ahead of schedule for the typical educator at her age. The family’s moving date is June 5.

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The long-time coach has contemplated retirement in recent years, but will be pulled back into the field at Roosevelt High School in Lubbock, Texas, as he’s accepted a position that will have him become the football team’s offensive coordinator and the boys basketball team’s coach as well.

“I wasn’t expecting to get back into it,” Bratcher said, “but they called me and buttered me up into it. Before you know it, I accepted it. I’m looking forward to it. I’m going to miss our time here, but it’s just one of those times for us to move on.”

Bratcher was emotional throughout his presentation of team awards at the event, clearing his throat often after presenting awards to athletes like his lone senior Daylan Wright.

The most emotional moment, however, came after he announced the team MVP. The honor went to two-time All-State and two-time All-Valley Girls Basketball Player of the Year selection Feliah Greer. Once Greer approached Bratcher on the stage to receive her award, she gave Bratcher a big hug.

“When he called my name, I was already getting emotional,” Greer said. “When I was walking up there, I was looking at him. I was like ‘Man. Coach Bratcher’s really about to leave us.’ He’s emotional and I’m emotional, too. When I went up there and shook his hand, I thought that this would probably be the last time I shook his hand. My heart dropped because I’m going to miss him so much. What was going through my head is that this is the last time that he’s going to see us unless he comes back to watch some games, and I just hope that he comes back to watch some games.”

In his introduction of Greer, Bratcher told a story about how he was on the verge of kicking Greer off the team after the team’s third practice last season because they always bumped heads. He went on to say that with gifted athletes like her, it takes time to understand how to connect with them. Greer transferred to LaFayette from Lanett last year as a freshman, and returned to basketball after not playing in her eighth-grade year.

“Him leaving hurt me hard because he’s the reason why I came to LaFayette,” Greer said. “He helped me get on the right path.”

Bratcher, who football senior Trevor Vines also hugged and expressed his gratitude for,  said that leaving hurts him as well.

“Every year you’re like ‘I just want to stay until this group graduates,’” Bratcher said. “Well, if you do that, you’ll never retire because every year, you never want to leave that group. This is a tough group to leave because I feel like Feliah, Monkeliyah [Morgan], Ebony [Williams], Alahbra’J [Todd], Nadya [Heard], Janeria [Gaines], this is going to be a great group coming back, this is going to be a great nucleus. Whoever’s stepping into it, they’re stepping into a great one. Hopefully, they keep growing, and I’m going to miss these kids.”