Van Price, the all-time winningest girls basketball coach in state history, is hanging it up after a remarkable 37 years of coaching. He spent 35 of those years at Layton, including 33 as the girls basketball head coach, and then the past five at Farmington.
He ends his career with 550 career wins, which is 50 wins more than the Ogden’s Philip Russell who sits second on the list with 500.
Price retired from teaching last year, but he decided to coach one more season at Farmington this year while his wife finished up her last year of work before retiring.
He said he and his wife, Jill, are very much looking forward to more free time to enjoy traveling, more time with kids and grandkids, fishing and golfing.
“Come tryout time I’m going to really miss that part where you get started into the actual season. You’ll miss the players and the excitement of building your team and trying to get the best out of them,” said Price.
Farmington head coach Van Price is congratulated by his team after their win over Viewmont secured his 501st career win, a new state record, at Viewmont High School in Bountiful on Friday, Jan. 24, 2020.
Spenser Heaps, Deseret News
He coached Layton to state titles in 2005 and 2016.
His first win came against Mountain Crest during his first game as head coach back in November 1986. His last win was in the 6A first round this year in Farmington’s 61-28 win over West Jordan. The team narrowly lost in the second round to rival Davis.
Price said one of the highlights of his careers has been the relationships he’s made with his coaching peers who he’s had many great battles against through the years. Among them, games against Bingham and coach Rand Rasmussen. He joked that he didn’t really like him the first time they played together, but eventually they became good friends who would share a pregame meal each year they played and would strategize about how to beat common opponents.
Price stepped away from head coaching for two season from 2006 to 2008 to be an assistant coach for Layton’s boys team so he could coach his son, but then he returned to being the head girls coach in 2008.
Price said every season has special meaning, but he said the opportunity to coach his own daughters stand out the most.
In 2005, his oldest daughter Nikki Price played on the Layton team that went 24-0 and won the 5A state title.
“Although she wasn’t a starter, it was real significant cause those were all her friends growing up and I coached them in comp leagues,” said Price.
Eight years later in the 2013 state tournament, Price didn’t expect much from his team heading in the state tournament. His daughter Ashley Price was a senior on that team, but he characterized that team is kind of mediocre. The Lancers ended up pulling out a quarterfinal upset of Alta and a semifinal upset of Bingham — despite trailing by double digits in the second half each game — but then ended up losing in the championship to Riverton by four.
“We had to press so much in the previous two games, I think we were just spent,” said Price.
As Price steps away he said he can’t believe how good the teams and players have become lately, and also how different the playbook needed to be this year with the advent of the shot clock in Utah high school basketball for the first time ever this past season.