Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV


December 14, 2013

Large heart for coaching

Beavers basketball coach instills more in players than just game skills

BLUEFIELD — Buster Large believes there is more to coaching than Xs and Os, games and practices, something that he learned from his high school football coach, the late Glynn Carlock Sr.

“Coach Carlock will always be remembered as one of the greatest coaches that has been in this area, and has had so many contributions to other people whether it be on the athletic field or just making you a better person, making you want to work hard, making you make something out of yourself,” Large said. “I really don’t think I would be a coach today had it not been for meeting him, playing for him. He was very instrumental in leading me to not only get a football scholarship at Bluefield State, but helping me in getting an education and wanting to go on and be a coach.”

Large is the head coach of the defending state champion Bluefield Beavers basketball team and he is also head football coach at Bluefield Middle School. When he’s not on the sidelines at the Brushfork Armory or Mitchell Stadium, he can be found teaching at Princeton Primary School.

The Bluefield, Va., resident talked about his love of coaching and how he got into the profession.

“You go to school and sometimes you take a liking to an activity. Some kids like math, some kids like social studies, some kids like English,” Large said. “I took a liking to sports and phys ed and it ended up I wanted to be a coach.

“I’m very fortunate it has been a successful career for me. I’ve enjoyed it. I’ve had the opportunity to coach a lot of good players, worked for a lot of good coaches, and have been very blessed and very fortunate to have the athletes I have coached.”

A 1976 graduate of Graham High School, Large was a three-sport letterman for the G-Men. He was a first baseman on the baseball team, a quarterback on the football squad, and in basketball he was a member of the 1972-73 team that advanced to the Virginia state finals.

“I feel like I have been very, very fortunate to have been around some great coaches that have inspired me to try to be a good teacher and educator, not only Coach Carlock, but Fred Simon, Steve Bourne, Terry Brown and Allan Wiley, who was the winningest coach in Virginia when he came to Graham in the 1972-73 basketball season. He stayed one year and we were state runner-up with a 22-5 record.”

After graduation from Graham, Large moved on to Bluefield State where he was a member of the last Big Blues football team in 1981, playing quarterback and slot back. Following graduation, he began a career in coaching that has carried him from Bluefield, to Princeton, to Southwest Virginia, McDowell County and back to Mercer County.

“In 1982 I was fortunate to get a job at Fairview Junior High in Bluefield,” Large said. “After my first year I went to Princeton Junior High where I was the assistant for one year and head baseball coach at Princeton High School.”

Large later became head coach at Princeton Middle School, his first head coaching job, in 1986, leading the Tigers to an 8-0 record. He then moved on to the football staff at Princeton High.

In 1988 Large joined the football staff of Fred Simon at Bluefield High. Large also was a member of the coaching staff of the late Jennings Boyd in the years Boyd guided the Bluefield program in the late ‘80s. When Boyd retired, Large was interim head coach for a season.

A head football coaching job carried Large to Southwest Virginia in 1994 as he took over the program at J.I. Burton High School in Norton, Va.

“I always had the aspiration of being a head coach, whether it be football or basketball, so I decided to take the position. We were 23-8-1 in the three years I was there,” Large pointed out.

One of the players Large coached at J.I. Burton was Boo Sensabaugh. Sensabaugh went on to have a stellar collegiate career playing in the defensive backfield at West Virginia University in the latter days of the Don Nehlen era in Morgantown.

The late ‘90s saw Large move back to the region and begin coaching at Big Creek High School. He assisted long-time friend Rhandy Barnett with the football program and was the Owls’ head basketball coach for two seasons before a stint on the football staff at Mount View High School. In 2000 he found his way back to Mercer County.

“I’m very fortunate to have a job in Mercer County. It’s a great place to work, coach and teach,” Large said. “We just have great resources, we have great athletic facilities and we have just an excellent school system.”

Two things Large instills in his players at Bluefield High and Bluefield Middle are discipline and community service. For years, members of the BHS basketball team have been involved in youth basketball camps, service projects and the upcoming Little Jimmie celebration, officially known as the Community Christmas Tree, sponsored by the Bluefield Daily Telegraph. Large and the Beavers basketball team will be contributing time and muscle to activities surrounding the Community Christmas Tree event over the next week.

“Sometimes you don’t think about it, but there’s a lot of children in the community that look up to these young men,” Large said. “They come out to a game and say, ‘My, that’s a Bluefield Beaver basketball player, that’s a Bluefield High School football player. That’s what I want to be one of these days.’

“A lot of time people don’t give sports enough credit as they should. I am not saying sports are the most important, by no means. Making a grade, going on and getting education, going on and having a chance to go to college, that’s the most important thing, developing yourself for life because you can only play sports for so long.

“We have a great admiration for going there to help because not everybody has seven or eight Christmas presents under their tree. Not everybody has a brand new bike. Not everybody has a basket of food. If we can brighten up one child’s eye, or a parent, or a father, or a grandparent seeing us there, then we’ve helped. I think that’s part of my job. We stress that to our players. We try to instill that not only off the court but on the court and most good programs you see are disciplined and we feel like we have a very disciplined program.”

Large continued, speaking about what he tells his players they must do in order to be not only a good athlete, but a good member of the community.

“I tell them one, you’ve got to make the grade. Two, you’ve got to be in good standing in the community and school, and three, you’ve got to do what’s right,” Large said. “You’ve got to listen to coaches and a lot of time you’re criticized. In our situation we criticize. We’re not trying to put someone down; we’re trying to make them better.

“We’re trying to challenge them to become a better athlete, a better basketball player, a better football player. Some people can handle it and some people have a problem with it. But in all cases we’re trying to do 100 percent right whenever we’re trying to get someone in the right direction.”

Large, like many coaches, stress to their players that there is life outside the sporting world and one should prepare him or herself for the day when they can no longer compete.

“I don’t know what the odds are now to get to the NFL, or the NBA, it’s incredible. If we can just push the student-athlete that we have here to do better in school, do a good job in the community, do what’s right in his life, make good decisions, then we’ve done a good job,” Large said. “I think there’s a lot of coaches doing a good job at going beyond the call of duty as a coach, as an educator, to try to make sure these young men try to do right in the community and do right at school and try to be respectful in the community and giving back.”

Large, an assistant coach for many years, is quick to acknowledge the help he gets from the assistants in the Beavers basketball program.

“I’ve been fortunate to have guys like Tony Webster, Dave Hubbard and Don Jones with this basketball program,” Large said. “It has made a lot easier job for me and we’re really enjoying right now the talents that we’ve got and trying to put a good competitive team out on the floor this year.”

Large also realizes the importance of instilling discipline and work ethic in the football players he guides at Bluefield Middle School.

“Those players at BMS go on to be Bluefield Beavers. I know it’s a very important job on the football side because we’re trying to develop football players for the high school,” Large said. “We hope we’ve done an adequate job to help the high school.”

The son of Charlie Sr. and Syble Large, Buster is the middle of three children and his roots run deep in the area.

“I was brought up around the coalfields all my life,” Large said. “My dad is a retired senior engineer for Consolidated Coal Company, and he really enjoyed what he did and I think he still enjoys what he’s doing now, being retired and still keeping up with what’s going on in the coal industry.

“My mother worked at the company store for years at Itmann and in Pocahontas, Va. We lived in Itmann, W.Va., until I was in the fourth grade, then we moved to Bluewell and then Bluefield, Va.”

Large and the Beavers opened the 2013-14 basketball season with a win at rival Princeton, Thursday night and have another rivalry game Tuesday night against Large’s alma mater, Graham. He concluded, speaking of the Bluefield hoops team.

“These guys are special. We’ve got a lot of goals set this year,” Large said. “We’ve got a tough schedule ahead of us and we’re real excited to get the season underway. Believe me, we’re very appreciative of what the Mercer County Schools and the Shott Foundation have done for us out here (at the Brushfork Armory). It all goes back to what we do as far as trying to make Bluefield a better place.”

 — Contact Bob Redd at

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