Story by  Bill Haisten of Tulsa World

Jay Bittle is like any other coach. He’s competitive. He wants his team to play smart, flawless basketball and he wants to win every game.

But when mistakes and defeats occur, Bittle isn’t as stressed as he might have been five years ago – when he dealt with and overcame a life-threatening condition.

“When you face death and then somehow get lucky, it makes you appreciate the sunrise and the sunset, and everything in between,” said Bittle, an assistant with the Bixby High School boys’ basketball team.

The sun set on Bixby’s season with Thursday’s 52-41, Class 6A state quarterfinal loss to top-ranked Edmond Memorial.

Nothing is better than watching your children play ball, and Bittle watched his son Jacob, a 6-foot-4 Spartan guard, play well during a 15-point performance.

“Jacob has been a joy to coach,” Jay Bittle said. “He’s a good boy.”

Bittle also has savored the athletic endeavors of two daughters – 19-year-old Breeann and 10-year-old Maddie – and more years with his wife Sherry, a Glenpool native.

“When I first laid my eyes on her, I thought, ‘That’s her, man,’ ” Bittle said. “It only took me six years to convince her that I was the one for her.”

Bittle is coaching basketball in 2011 because he survived
a dangerous surgery in 2006. He’s a big guy at 6-5. When he lost 40 pounds, had persistent headaches and became lethargic over a period of several months, a benign tumor was discovered.

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