A bond bigger than basketball at Westminster Christian

Westminster Christian head coach Ronnie Stapler and his former player, Auston Leslie have a special bond that's more than just a coach and his player.

Posted: Jun 12, 2019 12:14 AM
Updated: Jun 12, 2019 9:06 AM

Auston Leslie may be one of the greatest all-around athletes to come out of Westminster Christian. On Tuesday, Leslie signed his letter of intent to play basketball at the University of Southern Mississippi next year. Auston and Westminster's head coach Ronnie Stapler have a special bond, and it showed during Leslie's signing. 

"He's just like my second dad basically," Auston said about his coach.

Coach Stapler said that Leslie is an unbelievable player and athlete, "the thing that's better than anything is he's an unbelievable human being."

When Auston Leslie and Ronnie Stapler talk about one another, you can hear the admiration in their voices.

"He's the most humble human being I've ever been around," Coach Stapler said. "He makes all of us around him better because that's the kind of person he is and how he cares about everyone else. Unbelievable kid. Best basketball player in Alabama who didn't get a lot of hype."

Leslie said Coach Stapler is more than a basketball coach. He's a mentor to him.

Coach Stapler has been a basketball coach for more than 45 years and has taught a lot of players, but there aren't many like Leslie.

"I'll tell you what kind of player you're getting here. The guy from Western Kentucky when they talked to Auston in my office, he asked Auston, 'what do you want out of your college basketball experience?' He said, 'first of all I want to have the kind of relationship with my coaches like I did with Coach Stapler here. I want to go somewhere where I can improve as a player and if I have a chance to play beyond college then I'd like to do that. Most important of all I want to further my walk with God.' When Auston left the office and the coach looked at me and said I've never had one tell me that before," Coach Stapler said about Auston.

During Auston's signing, you could see the emotions pouring out of Stapler as Leslie's long list of accomplishments were read to those who came out.

"I looked at my assistant, and said this dude's got a chance to be really special and that's what he is," Stapler said.

Plus, when asked what he was going to miss most about Auston, Stapler responded with the simple answer, "Him. Just being around him every day."

Even though Auston is moving on, he's thankful for what his coach has done for him in high school.

"I just tell him I love him because he's treated me as one of his own. In times when I've needed stuff, just like in school or if I don't have it he's going to get it," Auston Leslie said.

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