Newport honors legendary player and coach Bill Osier
BY DUDLEY E. DAWSON
Those who have followed Newport basketball over the years know the legendary playing and coaching career of the late Bill Osier.
Osier, who led the Greyhounds to a 1965 state title as a player and four of the school’s six district titles a coach, was honored on Jan. 6 when the program dedicated the arena floor in his name.
The dedication ceremony included former Newport and Osier assistant Stan McKee and several of Osier’s former players, including former Arkansas star Charles Balentine.
Osier, whose given first name was Finis and who was married to his wife Sharon for 52 years, coached at Newport from 1974 until his retirement in 1998.
“I am thrilled,” noted McKee, who worked alongside Osier for 20 years. “It is truly deserved. He was very humble about himself, he never wanted the limelight. He always wanted to stay in the background.
“Any parent would want him to coach their son or daughter because he presented Christian values, he was going to do what was right regardless of how it affected him in any way. He was going to do what was right.”
Osier, who played his college basketball for Arkansas College (now Lyon College), also coached former Arkansas football players Theo Young, Billy Warren, Justin Brown and Bo Lacy.
McKee acknowledged Osier, who passed due to complications from coronavirus on Dec. 18, 2020, did not play favorites.
“He was a tough disciplinarian, but he was also very understanding of what would help every kid, “McKee said. “It didn’t matter if you were the star of the team or the last guy on the bench, there were requirements that you were going to meet.
“It was really more about making young men into fathers that would raise their children right. He was showing the example of what to be as a father and as a man. I think he was one of the best at that.”
Balentine, who hit the game-winning shot to take down No. 1 North Carolina and Michael Jordan in Pine Bluff on Feb. 12, 1984, professed his love for Osier at the ceremony.
“He instilled that hard work in us, don’t give up and taught a lot of team work,” Balentine said. “The fundamentals started right here with him. That kind of helped me going forward big-time. I can’t say enough about him as a man and as a coach.”
Balentine remembered seeing Osier’s picture and the 1965 state championship plaque on the wall of Newport’s old gymnasium.
“His name and picture were up on the wall and we were trying beat him on all those aspects, but we respected what he achieved and how he went about his life,” Balentine said. “When we would go places, he was always ‘represent Newport the right way’ and he did that himself every where he went.”