Providence Academy's Taylor Finley got ready to throw the ball as head coach Ray Finley watched
Ray Finley stands at the edge of the coach’s box near the Providence Academy bench. The coach sternly glares out toward the court.
He could be directing his frustration at one of his players, an opposing player or even an official. As former Providence Academy standout and current Harvard player AnnMarie Healy puts it: “That’s Ray, being Ray.”
Finley demands excellence from everyone involved with the sport he has been passionate about since his playing days. He is stepping down from coaching after 23 years at three schools.
“Ray is very demanding and direct. He isn’t going to sugarcoat anything,” said Healy, also known as “Miss Sunshine” by the mentor. “He sees everybody’s potential and expects them to be that good.”
Finley leaves with a career record of 472-148 after the Lions defeated Minneapolis Washburn 51-33 in the Class 2A third-place game Saturday at Concordia University in St. Paul.
“I have so many fond memories, and it’s because I had so many excellent and smart people to work with,” Finley said. “None of the kids ever diappointed me or let me down. It was a great run.”
Finley guided three schools to state championships — Blake (1994 and ’98), Breck (2004) and Providence Academy (2012). He was victorious in 23 of 30 state tournament games — the only girls’ or boys’ mentor in the state to accomplish the feat.
“He was passionate, focused, determined, committed and had very high expectations,” said former Blake standout Carolyn Moos, who later played at Stanford and in the WNBA. “That’s why he was so successful.”
Some might attribute it to his lucky game-day wardrobe: jeans, black shoes, white gym socks and a soon-to-be-thrown sport coat.
“He tries to look sharp, and then you see those white gym socks,” said former Breck center Melissa Miller, who later played at Northwestern “The way he dresses is his staple.”
DeLaSalle coach Faith Johnson Patterson was an assistant coach under Finley at Blake before becoming the head coach at Minneapolis North.
“Ray is an X’s and O’s expert,” Johnson Patterson said. “He is one of the most underrated coaches in the state of Minnesota.”
Johnson Patterson, who has won eight state titles between Minneapolis North and DeLaSalle, is quick to credit Finley for her success.
“When I was starting out, we would have X’s and O’s sessions of at least one hour together,” she said. “I would be lucky to say one thing per session. Afterwards, he would go, ‘Whew, that was great. Thanks!’ ”
Finley showed plenty of respect for his coaching staff and, more importantly, his players.
“He treats every player like they are his own daughter,” said Miller. “That’s really, really unique.”
So is coach Finley.