It’s been a remarkable run, but after 35 seasons Jodi Stanley is retiring as the girls’ basketball coach at Little Snake River.

Stanley has taught physical education in the district and coached at her alma mater since the fall of 1985.

Why now? Stanley told WyoPreps that she had figured out her career coaching record last year and between that and looking at the future for LSR, it was just time.

“I was thinking, gosh, if you can get to 500, that’s pretty good.”

Stanley had a record of 512-285 in those 35 seasons. Her first was the 1985-86 season, and the Rattlers finished in fourth place at the state tournament according to wyoming-basketball.com. In her final campaign (this season), Little Snake River capped it with a 16-12 overall record and a consolation trophy at the Class 1A state basketball tournament in Casper on March 7, 2020. They beat conference foes Farson-Eden and Saratoga for the hardware.

She stated that she still enjoys coaching and working with the kids.

“We have a really good group of kids. We’ve got some good young people coming in, and I thought that was just a really good time to let someone else build with a pretty good group of girls.”

When did she decide? Stanley said it was last summer but she still entered the school year thinking she may continue as a teacher.

“I kind of went into the school year thinking I’ll see how I like this and how it goes, and I’ve had a great year. It’s been fun. Once I made the decision (to retire as a teacher), in October or November of last year, I just never said anything to anybody because I didn’t want to put that pressure on the girls, like ‘Win one for the Gipper’ or something. Nah, let’s just keep this a secret.”

She went through the whole season thinking did I make the right decision?

“I think it was the right decision because it was easy.”

She went on to say maybe it’s a hard decision but then when things happen you realize this is why I need to retire.

Stanley felt they had a good season, and she's got good parents.

“That’s why I think it’s a really good time to let someone else experience the ‘good stuff’ that I’ve been able to experience.”

Longtime assistant coach Floydene Orchard called Stanley a great motivator.

“Whether it was a word she came up with for the year or books she would have the girls read or she would have inspirational things from books that she had read, just made the program a success, let alone, just the normal coaching.”

Orchard added it was about more than basketball with Stanley. “It was learning life skills.”

She also mentioned the fun and humor that she brought to different moments over the years.

Stanley led the Rattlers to three state championships during her tenure. Those came in 2002, 2012, and 2018. The 2012 team went undefeated with a 28-0 record. Her daughter played on the squad in 2018.

She said what stands out to her is every team she coached.

“I really never forget the teams, but I’d be like, who did you play with? Oh yeah, yeah. I don’t remember individual seasons so much, but just having an opportunity to coach a lot of really good athletes and people that worked hard and didn’t mind hard work.”

She vividly remembers the team she coached in 1988 that lost in the title game, plus their first state crown in ’02, and the last two.

“Those are all special memories and just lots of good things.”

Another one that stands out and she called one of her “favorite” seasons was when they only had five players.

“We won four games that year. We shouldn’t have won any (laughs). I was like, gosh, these people are not doing a very good job because we’re terrible. It was fun because people overlooked us because we only had five (players).”

Being a teacher at the same time gave her insight into what the Rattlers would have coming up and even though there were some lean years, Stanley said she would know and could gauge how good we could be.

As an example, that lean year came at the same time as a group of eighth-graders were excelling; their bright future turned into the perfect season of 2012.

Orchard also said Stanley’s competitive nature was always there.

“It doesn’t matter what kind of team we had coming in, she always believed that there was potential. In Jodi’s mind, there was no doubt we’re going somewhere every year and could be competitive with the Cokeville’s, with the Burlington’s, it didn’t matter.”

Orchard said it’s what made our program successful.

Stanley led Little Snake River to 23 state tournament appearances in 35 seasons. In addition to the state titles, the Rattlers made the semifinals 12 times and captured three consolation crowns. They won seven regional titles and finished runner-up eight times.

In 2019, Stanley was honored as the Region 9 Coach of the Year. She’s also been the Conference Coach of the Year 12 times and Wyoming Coach of the Year four times.

Her 500th career win came in a home game back in January versus long-time rival Farson-Eden. It was a hard-fought 42-37 victory at the ‘Snake Pit.’

“I just thought it was neat that it was a conference opponent because I think we play in one of the toughest conferences in 1A. Farson’s been a big part of that. Cokeville’s been a big part of that. Snake River’s been a big part of that, Encampment, as well. Everybody in our conference has had lots of success.”

That competition, she added, pushed her teams to be better.

“There have been years when I’ve been down and they kicked me, and there have been years when they’ve been down and I kicked them, but overall, it’s just been a great competition between those schools, and that’s always a special thing, I think.”

As for some of her fondest memories, it wasn’t always about the game.

“I think that’s probably true of any coach. Whether you’re new or old, and I think old coaches probably appreciate those moments maybe a little bit more, but it’s always stuff for us (as coaches) that happens off the court.”

There’s little doubt that Coach Stanley is leaving behind a legacy at LSR, as well as Coach Orchard, who is also moving on.

An interesting fact between the two long-time friends and coaching duo is they’ve been a part of every state championship in Rattlers girls’ basketball history. As a player, Jodi Stanley won two titles, while Floydene Orchard was on the championship team in 1982. They coached together in the other three.

Stanley said it’s something they are “both very proud of.”

Little Snake River girls’ basketball and girls’ hoops in Wyoming will miss a wonderful role model.

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