Written by Will Merritt
It’s the end of a coaching era for Randolph-Macon women’s basketball. Assistant coach Jay Starke has announced his retirement after 13 seasons on the bench.
"I have enjoyed being a member of the Yellow Jacket family for the past 13 seasons," Starke said. "I want to thank Coach LaHaye for the opportunity to coach at Randolph-Macon and the fans of women's basketball for their support over the years."
As a volunteer coach, Starke was the perfect fit for the Yellow Jackets. He was devoted to the program and made it a priority to be at every practice — except those starting before the sun came up.
“Jay has given his heart and soul to the program over the past 13 seasons,” women’s basketball head coach Carroll LaHaye said. “He has been a valuable sounding board for me and humbled me into dreaming what I thought the team could accomplish.”
He took great pride in individual instruction and development of post players such as Michelle Orton, Emily Crider, Molly Ariail, Taylor Wieczorek, Katie Anderson, Lindsay Riesbeck, Molly Brown and most recently Kelly Williams.
Starke was a passionate member of the coaching staff. Clipboards feared Starke when RMC was not playing well. He was known for pounding his clipboard against the court —sometimes sending pieces flying through the air or breaking it entirely. To this day, he still owes LaHaye 50 laps for the two technical fouls assessed to him.
In 13 seasons, Starke helped the program tally a 263-104 (.717) overall record and a 181-59 (.754) mark in the ODAC. Since joining the staff in Ashland in 2004-05, Starke has been a part of six Old Dominion Athletic Conference Championship teams and has helped guide the women to six NCAA Tournament appearances.
His first year on the coaching staff was arguably the best season in the history of the program. Accomplishments included: winning the ODAC Tournament for the second time in three years; finishing with the most wins in the program's history at 30-2; becoming the first-ever women's team in the ODAC to go 20-0; advancing to the Final Four of the NCAA Tournament for the first time in the history of both R-MC and ODAC women's basketball; finishing second in the NCAA's; achieving the longest winning streak in the history of the program at 23 games; and finishing ranked #2 in the nation and #1 in the South Region.
While stepping away from the day-to-day coaching lifestyle, Starke won't be a stranger to RMC.
"There is no 'right' time to retire," Starke said. "I look forward to spending time with my family and cheering — coaching — the team from the stands."