Assistant Boys’ Basketball Coach Surly Works to Build Players and Program

You may know that the school’s varsity boys’ basketball team has won more state championships than any other program in Arkansas. You may not know, however, that between the years of 1999 and 2020, the team took home exactly zero state titles.However,  2020 was different, marking two years of upward progress made by the team with the help of assistant coach Caleb Surly.

Surly, an algebra teacher, is the assistant varsity and head freshman coach of the boys’ team. He is also an assistant coach for the school’s swim team.

He also has his own scholarship fund, the Surly Chase Your Dream Scholarship, which aims to help high school students from his hometown of Rogers reach their dreams by providing financial aid for college.

Surly said his years in high school are what encouraged him to take up teaching and coaching as professions.

“I love working with kids. I have always had great teachers in my life and great counselors and mentors and role models that I’ve always looked up to,”

Surly said. “I hope to be the same kind of influence that all those people have had on me.”

As for why he set his sights on this campus, Surly said its unique legacy and reputation in the state influenced him to teach at Central. That, and re-establishing the schools’ legendary boys’ basketball team as a dominant force. 

“I wanted to come to Central because it’s one of the most historic schools if not the most historical school in America,” Surly said. “The main draw was restoring the basketball program to the prominence and glory it had in the past.”

Surly started coaching the boys’ team in 2018, coming from Baptist Prep with the man who coached him in high school basketball, Brian Ross, after winning a third consecutive state title. Surly has been coaching with Ross for five years, and he says that Ross was the person who inspired him to pursue coaching. 

“Ever since the 9th grade I’ve always been very close to him,” Surly said. “It’s really cool getting to coach alongside someone that you really look up to.”

As for this season, Surly said that he is more than optimistic about this year’s players. Though few players with varsity experience will be returning to the varsity team, he said the group is still poised for victory. 

“We’re a young team. Just because we don’t have experience doesn’t mean we don’t have talent or can’t compete for championships,” Surly said.

He said the most important thing the team has on their side is their die-hard work ethic.

“Every single kid in that gym, they’re working hard every day, they’re competing, and they’re pushing each other to be better,” Surly said. “We’re looking forward to the season,” Surly said.