BLOCK PARTY

Guthrie cross country coach James Strahorn runs with Trevor Sallee at Mineral Wells Park in Guthrie, Okla. , Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2018. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman

James Strahorn couldn’t sleep. Tossing and turning in his bed, he found himself staring at the ceiling. The same question kept replaying in his mind—did he make the right decision?

On Wednesday, June 19th, Strahorn interviewed to become a teacher and assistant coaching position at Edmond Memorial. The following day he accepted the job offer. In the span of 48 hours, Strahorn made a quick, life-changing decision. A decision that he thought followed in line with what he was supposed to do.

“The Edmond job looked good on paper and I thought making the decision early would help me out, just to get it over with,” Strahorn said. “I thought making the decision quick would secure the fact that it was really what I wanted to do, but in the end it did the opposite. It took making that decision for me to realize where my heart really was.”

Strahorn showed up for his final practice at Guthrie High School that Friday. The emotional toll of it lingered from early in the morning into his bed that night. Agonizing over the decision to leave Guthrie, Strahorn picked up the phone and called the one person who could help sort out his thoughts—his mom.

“That was a hard day for me,” Strahorn said. “I wasn’t able to have a clear thought at all. I stayed up all night, I literally didn’t sleep. I called my mom at 3 AM and again at 3:45 AM, and again at 4:30 AM. I kept my wife up all night, too.”

After talking with his mom and his wife, Strahorn says he was able to step back from everyone’s opinion. For the first time in the entire process, Strahorn asked the most important question. 

“I finally had a moment where I just asked myself what I really wanted,” Strahorn said. “I had listened to everyone’s opinion, but I was weighing everyone’s opinion instead of my own. That’s when I realized that Guthrie was where my heart is. I looked at my wife and told her that I had to stay here in Guthrie.”

Realizing he made a mistake and wanting to remain in Guthrie, Strahorn made three more calls. One to his assistant Clay Tarter, one to Athletic Director Jon Chappell, and one to Edmond Memorial. He says all were very understanding of his decision. 

“I didn’t care what it took, or what I had to do, I wanted to be back here,” Strahorn said. “I didn’t are what anyone thought. I would rather come back and deal with the explanations and a little backlash to be happy versus going some where else and wish I was still in Guthrie.”

Saturday afternoon, Strahorn couldn’t wait until the weekend was over to tell his kids that he was coming back. He sent the group text and his phone lit up with phone calls and texts second later. On his first practice back on Monday, he reintroduced himself to the kids as the new head coach and exchanged hugs. 

“This place is just so special to me,” Strahorn said. “I’m excited to be staying here. I’m surrounded by a whole bunch of special people from the students to the staff and administration. I’m glad everything worked out; it’s a really good feeling. I’ve worked hard in my two years here to build something special and I can see myself staying here for a while.”

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