Randy Loyd's decision to retire altogether from athletics was really made about 16 months ago.

That's when his grand-daughter, Lakyn, was born.

“It definitely made it a lot easier,” Loyd said. “I've heard all along how great grand-parenting is, and everybody's right. She is something special, and we love spending as much time with her as we can.”

Loyd has retired as Director of Athletics for Van Buren effective the end of the school year, ending his 37-year involvement with athletics.

Loyd has been at only four schools in his athletic career, including the last 26 at Van Buren.

“It's hard to understand the time that the Athletic Director's job takes,” Loyd said. “In coaching, it's every Tuesday and Friday night, and going to a junior high game here and there. As the AD, it's every night the whole year because there are games going on every season.”

Loyd was the Pointers' basketball coach for 22 years, but also spent 12 of those years as also the Director of Athletics in addition to the last four as just the AD.

“How I did those years as both and how the AD job worked for me was great administrative assistants; Cheryl Gatling and Amanda Bowen,” Loyd said. “Without them, I couldn't have done both jobs and everything that needed to be done.”

Loyd has been married to his wife, Laura, for 36 years.

“You definitely have to have a wife that's supportive and understands that you're going to be gone a lot,” Loyd said. “I had the best one. She was always been there and has been very supportive.”

As a head coach, Loyd finished 709-364, including 516-316 as a boys coach and 356-246 at Van Buren and the winningest boys coach in Van Buren history.

“I don't know how many games I've done counting junior high but it's over well over 1,000 and you can count the games she's missed on one hand,” Loyd said. “It wasn't just my team, it was her team. She ran the booster club, she bought stuff for the concession, and she fed the kids. Every Thursday night in January and February, they would come to the house and she would cook dinner for them. When I hurt, she hurt. When I celebrated, she celebrated.”

Loyd began his coaching career at Charleston as the offensive line coach for the football Tigers under Mike Adams in 1983.

The next year, Loyd was coaching junior high girls basketball and they went 26-0 and 25-1 in successive years.

Loyd's first head coaching job was at Johnson County Westside, where he stayed for two years as the coach of both the boys and girls teams. The 1988-89 boys team went to the Regional Tournament for the first time in school history.

After two years at Johnson County Westside, Loyd went to County Line for five years again both as boys and girls coach. Loyd guided the girls to the Class A state championship in 1991. In four of the five years at County Line, the Lady Indians won at least 30 games.

“God has had his hand on my career because he put me in places where I walked in and there were players,” Loyd said. “There were kids that could play everywhere I've coached.”

In 1994, when Van Buren's boys basketball position came open, Van Buren Athletic Director Floyd Cagle reached out to Charleston Superintendent Guy Fenter for suggestions. Fenter, who hired Loyd for his first coaching position 11 years earlier, recommended Loyd.

Soon after, Loyd was the head coach of the Pointers, making a rare jump from Class A to the state's largest classification.

“I always wanted to coach in the league that I played in,” said Loyd, a Southside graduate who played in the same Western conference that Van Buren has mostly been a part of the last three decades.

“I've loved every school I've been at and every job I've had,” Loyd said. “Finishing it off, coaching was my passion but I thought I could end my career as an AD. I feel good about it. It's in a great spot.”

Loyd successfully guided the Van Buren athletic program through hiring changes in all of the major sports, including after his own vacancy for the boys basketball team, as well as girls basketball, football, and the recent baseball opening.

“Randy's been a joy to work with,” Van Buren Superintendent Dr. Harold Jeffcoat said. “He's done an outstanding job for our school district. He's made a long commitment to our school system. He's put us in position to make many improvements and has contributed to a lot of our success. He's doing it right. He's going out on top, and that's the way we all want to go out.”

Loyd's retirement doesn't mean retirement from basketball totally, however, with son and former Pointer guard, Trent, enjoying success as the head boys basketball coach at Pea Ridge for the past seven seasons.

“We'll enjoy sitting up in the bleachers and watching him coach and the great job he's doing there,” Loyd said. “Then, of course, seeing Shelby, his wife, and my princess, Lakyn.”

Dr. Jeffcoat will meet with the Van Buren Board of Education on Tuesday night as the search for Loyd's replacement begins.

“We'll discuss our options and take all things into consideration moving forward,” Jeffcoat said. “Randy will be with us the remainder of the school year.”