By Christopher Tenpenny
The regular season is over for the Archie girls’ basketball team which saw the Whirlwinds finish 21-2 and earned the No. 1 seed in their district. As they prepare for a deep playoff run, an experienced and respected coach looms on the Archie bench. Charlie Plattner has been the girls’ assistant coach for 15 seasons and has been coaching since 1978.
The current Archie team is special for Plattner as he gets to coach his granddaughter, Reese Plattner, who is a junior and one of the main contributors on the team.
Basketball is in the Plattner blood. While Charlie Plattner has been “retired” from coaching for nearly 20 years, he’s never been without a team. Archie hosts the Archie Tournament every year and it is said to be the oldest running tournament west of the Mississippi River. Plattner has been a head or assistant coach for 32 of them, more than anyone else.
Plattner has been a part of several memorable teams, but before he was a coach, Plattner started with a different profession.
Every Tuesday and Wednesday, you can find Charlie Plattner cutting hair down at Terry’s Baber Shop in Harrisonville. The 81-year-old Plattner has been cutting hair since 1958, but it has always been his second passion. Plattner’s real love is coaching.
Plattner played basketball at Freeman in the 50s and when he graduated in 1957, he went straight to barber school. Plattner soon had his own business, a family and the desire to go back to school.
“I was always interested in basketball, but never thought I was smart enough for college,” Plattner said. “My whole family has always been sports oriented. I finally decided to go back to school to start coaching.”
Plattner graduated from the University of Central Missouri in 1978 after studying social studies and physical education. Plattner could finally begin his coaching career. Even after everything he had gone through to start coaching, Plattner was still worried about his age.
“I put myself through college with a wife and two kids,” Plattner said. “I went during the summer, too. I graduated when I was 38. I was worried about starting to coach because I thought I was maybe too old.”
Plattner was far from being too old as he went on to have a successful coaching career. From 1987 to 1998, Plattner was the head coach of the Archie boys’ basketball team. During his tenure, the Whirlwinds won five Archie Tournaments, six conference championships and seven district championships. Plattner’s record is 208-81.
Plattner also helped coach the Archie football team and started the baseball program at Archie in 1988. The baseball team won districts in 1994, 1996 and 1997.
“I was fortunate to coach some very good athletes,” Plattner said. “They really loved the game and played the game hard. It made me look good.”
Plattner coached some athletes who have had exceptional careers. Brad Hocker played for Archie from 1988 to 1991 before going on to play football at Kansas State and Missouri Southern. Hocker set and still holds numerous state rushing records from his time at Archie, including most points in a season, career touchdowns, career rushing yards and rushing attempts. He’s still ranked in several national rushing records as well.
Plattner also coached Bob Poisal who went on to win a baseball national championship with the University of Central Missouri in 1994. Poisal was named an All-American as a pitcher and is the only Mule to win 12 or more games in back-to-back seasons.
Now retired from teaching, Plattner is still involved in coaching. He’s been an assistant coach for the Archie girls’ basketball team since 2008. He’s also an assistant coach for the Archie softball team. Reese Plattner enjoys having her grandpa around and says he’s always cracking jokes.
“It’s always entertaining,” Plattner said. “He’s always got a joke or is saying something sarcastic to me during practice. There’s never a dull moment with him there.
“One of his favorite things to say is when anyone starts talking about going on a diet. He’ll say, ‘I’m on one kind of diet, a seafood diet. I see food and I eat it.’ I don’t know how many times I’ve heard that joke, but I laugh every single time.”
Charlie Plattner always has a smile on his face and loves the game of basketball. He just cannot pull himself away from the game.
“I’m just thankful I’ve been able to do this for this long,” Plattner said. “A lot of guys my age aren’t as fortunate. I’ve been retired for 20 years but never without a basketball team.”
Plattner began helping out at Terry’s Barber Shop six years ago. You will often see a long line of customers waiting for Plattner’s chair. Plattner still loves cutting hair and catching up with people he would not get to see regularly. He even enjoys the “arm-chair quarterbacks” who come in and discuss sports with him.
Just remember, if you go to see Plattner at the barber shop make sure you get there early. Because even at 81, Plattner still needs to get to practice on time.