He had grown up as the son of a high school basketball coach, and so taking on challenges simply was in his DNA.

In the summer of 1992, after a couple of dominate seasons at a Polk County school, Jay Osborne took on his next project – the Nixa High School boys basketball team.

“Accepting the Nixa job was a challenge,” Osborne said. “Nixa had a history of going through a lot of basketball coaches every few years. A revolving door so to speak. I was focused on changing that.”

Did he ever.

The 2021-2022 season marks Osborne’s 30th and final year with Nixa – and his 35th overall in coaching, 33rd as a head coach – and what a run it’s been. In fact, his success is why the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame proudly inducted Osborne with the Class of 2022.

Osborne entered the season with a career record of 647-242 (.728), averaging more than 20 wins a season. His 1999 Nixa team won the Class 3 state championship, and his 2002 team placed third while the 2012 team (30-2) earned a state runner-up.

His teams also won 12 district titles and 45 tournaments, including 13 Nixa Invitationals and seven Greenwood Blue & Gold Tournaments. The Blue & Gold reached its 75th anniversary in December 2021, and Osborne is its all-time winningest coach, with a 75-25 record.

Then again, you can make a case that Osborne was born to coach.

You see, he grew up on the frontier plains of central Kansas, in a town of about 1,000 called Nickerson. His dad, Duane, coached the Nickerson High School basketball team.

“I had the pleasure of playing for him,” Osborne said. “I was lucky to be born to a basketball coach.”

A 1982 Nickerson graduate, Osborne excelled in football (All-State receiver), basketball, track and tennis (third in state) before playing two years of junior college football. He finished his degree at Fort Hays State University.

So, how in the world did he end up in Missouri?

Randy Stange, a high school teammate, played for Charlie Spoonhour (MSHOF Legend 2019) at Missouri State and set up Osborne for an interview for an assistant coaching job in Willow Springs, under coach Brent Colley.

Osborne was there from 1987 to 1989, and then headed to Solomon, Kansas for his first head coaching job. After one season – the program’s first winning season in 10 years – he returned to Missouri, as head coach at Polk County’s Pleasant Hope High School. Osborne’s teams were 51-7 in two seasons, winning a Blue & Gold title in 1990 and reaching the state quarterfinals in 1992.

And then the Nixa job opened.

“I wanted to build something special and enhance the strong tradition of success that Nixa basketball was known for,” Osborne said of a Nixa program (MSHOF 2019) that had reached Final Fours in 1959, 1974, 1978, 1979, 1984 and 1986 – with a state title in 1978 and state runner-up finishes in 1979 and 1986.

Osborne’s 1994 team advanced to the state quarterfinals. The 1999 team (29-4) won Class 3 featuring a six-man rotation. The 2002 team overcame several challenges, including several late-season injuries. The 2012 team featured four heavily recruited players. The 2015 team (28-2) lost in the quarterfinals in the final seconds to eventual state champ Blue Springs South.

“I wanted to be a coach my entire life,” Osborne said. “Being the son of a coach was a huge influence for me. My mom and dad were extremely supportive of all my sporting events, both as a youth playing and as a coach. Being able to sit on my dad’s bench as a kid and keep stats was always a thrill and a great learning experience. I loved being around his coaching friends and his peers.”

Like most coaches, Osborne’s success was shaped by many others in the profession: Colley, Mark Fisher (MSHOF 2019), Steve Hunter (MSHOF 2019), Gary Stanfield (MSHOF 2015), Mike Keltner and Steve Hesser (MSHOF 2022).

He also credits assistants such as Pleasant Hope’s Rick Foster, and Nixa’s Kevin Cub Martin and Brock Blansit.

Osborne also noted he couldn’t have had success without the support of his wife, Kimberly, and his children, Colbie, Chandler and stepson Dalton.

“The game has changed over the last 35 years,” said Osborne, a 2015 inductee of the Missouri Basketball Coaches Association. “So my coaching styles have had to change as well. I feel like I have become a better coach as each year passes.”