WHITESBORO — Just after getting over one tragedy, Whitesboro Public Schools is now dealing with another one.
Former Whitesboro Coach Steve Linker died Sunday at age 53. His services took place Wednesday at the high school auditorium.
Last week, first-year boys basketball coach Wayne Tucker had his funeral at the same place after being killed in a one-car accident between Muse and Big Cedar on Oklahoma State Highway 63 on March 3.
“Coach Steve Linker was pretty much a legend around here”, said Katie Blagg, Whitesboro School Superintendent.
Coach Linker led the Whitesboro Bulldog basketball, baseball and softball teams to many awards and titles beginning in the 1986-1987 season. He retired from coaching for health reasons in 2000.
After three years of retirement, Linker came back as a volunteer to coach both boys and girls for the senior season of his daughter, Ketra, for the 2003-2004 season.
That spring, Steve was severely injured in an automobile accident and retired again from coaching to work more closely with his wife, Cheryl, in their businesses in Talihina and Clayton.
“His greatest quality was motivating his players for each game,” said Gene Hiatt, longtime friend, current teacher and also a former coach at Whitesboro. “He would do anything for his players, and they would do anything for him. He even learned to do algebra, or whatever his players struggled with, so he could take them home and tutor them.”
“Coach Linker loved this school, he loved the kids he coached and they loved him,” said Tammy Smith Adams, a former player.
Linker was a leader and an inspiration on and off the court. He forged a code of respect, loyalty and fierce determination among players and fans alike that stands as an example today. Whitesboro is overwhelmed with sadness at this latest loss of such an icon in the community.