Owen found the right man for the job

Tim Raines retires after 23 years of coaching Warlassies basketball

Fred McCormick

Tim Raines had some giant shoes to fill when he succeeded Bill Rucker as head coach of the Owen Warlassies basketball team.

Rucker won 636 games as a high school head coach, including a 90-game winning streak by the Warlassies in the late 1960s. Raines was becoming a varsity head coach for the first time.

More than two decades later, as Raines prepares to retire from teaching and coaching at the end of this school year, there's no doubt about whether he was the man for the job.

Tim Raines was 17-9 in his final season as the Warlassies head coach, leaving him with a career record of 280-320.

Raines wasn't exactly unknown in the world of Owen athletics when, in 1994, he was offered the position. In fact, as a student at the school in the 1970s, he played football under renowned coach Jim LeVine and basketball under Roy Williams, then Bill Burrows. In the years before he became the varsity Warlassies head coach he spent a season coaching the junior varsity Warlassies and several years as head coach of the junior varsity football team, a position he ultimately held for 19 years.

“For the past 20-something years, Tim has probably spent more time with me than his wife,” said former Owen football coach Kenny Ford, who felt an immediate connection with his fellow Swannanoa Valley native Raines.

“We had a very strong JV program between Tim and Curt Presley,” Ford said. “And both those guys used to talk about what it really means to put on that maroon helmet.”

When Raines took over for the Warlassies it was quickly apparent that he was the man to fill Rucker’s “very big shoes,” according to Sarah Horne, who was the “first sought-after female recruit in the area” under Rucker, according to a 1994 Black Mountain News article covering the coach’s retirement.

“Over my 25-plus years of coaching I’ve had the pleasure of coaching with many different styles of coaches,” Horne said. “I’ve really been blessed to have worked with two of the best coaches around here, both from the Valley, and Tim is one of them.”

Raines held his players to a standard of excellence, according to Horne.

During his coaching career at Owen, Tim Raines was known for his passion and holding his players to a high standard.

“You want to be tough on them,” she said. “You want to make them think that there’s nothing they can’t accomplish in this sport, as well as in anything else.”

A hard-nose approach to coaching was just one virtue Raines brought to the table, according to Ford.

“He cares, he really cares,” he said. “He’s always been there for those girls, and they’ve always been able to see how much he cares about them.”

Raines compiled a career record of 280-320 during his 23-year-career on the sidelines for the Warlassies. The team consistently qualified for the state playoffs (15 appearances) under his watch. He’s coached the East-West All-Star game, the North-South All-Star game and the Blue-White All-Star game during his career. He also guided the Warlassies to three semifinals appearances. He has been the head coach of the Owen boys’ golf team for the past three seasons.

The impact of Raines extends well beyond the programs he coached, according to Chuck Robinson, who just finished his seventh season as the boys’ varsity basketball coach.

“Coach Raines sat on the interview board when I was hired to coach at Owen,” Robinson said. “From day one we’ve worked so closely. I respect that man so much, and he’s helped me in so many ways.”

Cooperation between the two basketball programs is a fundamental key to success, according to the Warhorse coach.

“The coaches of the boys team and the girls team have to get along,” Robinson said. “It’s hard to really describe how much I’m going to miss him.”

It was Raines who helped Robinson adjust to one of the most difficult aspects of being a head coach on the high school level.

“I remember the first group I had that came through for four years,” Robinson said. “It was Michael Pomeroy, Coach Raines’ son, Ryan and Shawn Chapman and those boys. I was literally in tears when those boys played during Senior Night.

“I asked him, how do you even keep coaching after you’ve invested so much into kids and they graduate and move on,” he continued. “He said that’s part of coaching high school basketball, and you go on and hopefully you’ve taught those kids a lot about not just basketball, but life lessons.”

Robinson was among the first people to learn of Raines’ plans to retire.

“I said, ‘but who am I going to turn to when I have questions on offense, defense, or breaking film down?’” Robinson said. “He said, you still have my phone number.”