Steve Strand and Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas basketball have been synonymous for nearly four decades.
But on Tuesday, Strand announced his decision to call it a career.
Strand, who spent the past 19 years as the Raiders’ boys’ coach and the previous 20 as an assistant after playing for Aquinas, told the Miami Herald he was retiring.
Strand led Aquinas to its lone state title in the sport in 2001, three more state final-four appearances, eight district titles and had an average career record of 18-7 during his tenure.
Aquinas athletic director George Smith said the school has promoted assistant coach Bryan White to succeed Strand.
“After all these years, I just think it’s time for me to go,” Strand said. “I’m very happy with the direction in which the program is going, I’ve known Bryan for some time now, and he understands the culture of this program, so what better qualifications for him to become coach.”
Strand, 56, played for Aquinas during its run to the state final in 1975 and later joined the team as an assistant coach.
In an era with so much coaching turnover, Strand was a mainstay with the Raiders.
Strand sent more than 40 players to college during his tenure.
“The help Steve has given us both coaching and in an administrative capacity have been so valuable,” Smith said. “And if you look at all the kids he’s helped go on to college, and hundreds that he’s mentored over the years, this is a guy that deserves a lot of thank yous from a lot of people.”
White, one of the players who played for Strand, has spent the past five seasons as an assistant coach at Aquinas.
An All-County and All-State player during his career at Aquinas, White went on to star at Lehigh University from 2004 to 2008 and led the Patriot League in rebounds his junior and senior seasons.
White also won the League’s Sportsmanship Award as a senior.
“I appreciate everything Coach Strand did for me getting me ready to be in this position,” White said. “I’ve always seen how he’s gone about things coaching this program and upholding its ideals and traditions. That’s something I hope to carry on with me.”
Aquinas went 13-10 last season but has a roster of only four seniors, which White said is a source of optimism.
“We have a lot of young kids that played JV for the past two years,” White said. “I think we are under the radar now, but this team has a chance to do something special in the next two years.”