Thursday, March 15, 2007
Harris resigns as Potts Camp coach
By BARRY BURLESON
Kevin Harris had the toughest of tasks Friday, telling his players he would not be back as coach.
The leader of the Potts Camp Lady Cardinals the past six basketball seasons is stepping away from the game.
“It was extremely tough,” Harris said after sharing hugs and tears with team members. “It’s not easy telling girls who have become as close to you as your own children. You know you want to be a part of what they’ve gotten used to.”
But Harris said it’s time for a change. He plans to go to graduate school and get a degree in administration.
“I can honestly say that for the first time in 13 years (of coaching at three schools), the wins didn’t make me feel like they used to and the losses were excruciating,” he said. “There were a handful of times this season while the boys were playing that I was stepping outside and getting sick at my stomach. I knew I couldn’t go on doing that health-wise. I need to step back.”
Harris almost resigned last year when his wife Stacey was diagnosed with cancer.
“She talked me out of it,” he said. “But I guess it would go back to then. I haven’t felt the same way about things since then.”
A year later she is doing well, and he will soon turn 40. He said he doesn’t want to linger in the profession and it become just a job. He said he had seen veteran coaches who looked sad in their later years at courtside.
“They appeared to be doing it because they couldn’t do anything else,” Harris said. “I told my wife I don’t won’t to be that guy. This is the first step in me not being that guy.
“I love kids and I love coaching, but I don’t want to do it just to have a job. I have too much love for the kids and respect for the game to do that. I was scared I was going to do that.”
Harris produced a 129-71 overall record at Potts Camp. His Lady Cardinals won two district championships and made four trips to the North State Tournament. His 2003-04 team was within one win of the State Tournament.
“We’ve had way above average moments on the floor but none of that mattered if the kids and the parents here were not quality people,” he said. “My fondest memories all blend together - my love for the girls, the parents and the fans.
“There have been other coaches other places so jealous of what I’ve had - the good relationships.”
His 2006-07 Lady Cardinals finished 16-17.
“We’ve become consistently good enough to where 16 wins makes a coach unhappy,” Harris said. “I think when the story is told five or six years down the road, people will look back on this as a solid foundation being built. I hope these years will be remembered fondly by all.”
He plans to be back in the classroom next year at Potts Camp. And he is not ruling out coaching again somewhere sometime.
“I told my kids I was not going to stand in front of them and say I would never coach again,” Harris said. “At some point, the right opportunity might get that feeling inside me humming again. Until then, I have no further plans to coach.”
Harris has fond memories of the rivalries and his coaching buddies, like Jason Thompson at H.W. Byers and Jessie Terry at Ashland.
“Coach Thompson and I over the past few years have figured out we have a lot in common,” Harris said. “He’s one of my biggest competitors and one of my best friends.
“I knew Coach Terry and watched his teams play before I came to Potts Camp. The past six years of getting to know him better have really meant a lot to me.”
The feelings are mutual.
Thompson said, “Coach Harris is a top-notch professional, on and off the court. He’s a great competitor who gets his team motivated to play. He works hard. He’s a great guy to be friends with in this profession. He’s a real good friend to me - always willing to help.”
Terry said Harris was the key person in establishing both the Bi-County Tournament and the girls summer league.
“The rest of the schools just jumped on board,” Terry said.
“Coach Harris is a very good friend on the court and off. He did a good job with the Potts Camp girls. They steadily improved. He’s an honest, good person - the kind of person I like to be around. I hate to hear about his departure. He will be missed.”
Harris is not leaving the cupboard bare at Potts Camp. The starting five returns next year and nine of 10 players getting significant playing time this season are back.
“There will be quality coaches from this state and other states knocking on the door to try and get this job,” Harris said. “It’s a great place to coach.”
Potts Camp Principal Ken Basil thanked Harris for his six years of dedicated service.
“I applaud Kevin for all he’s done here,” Basil said. “He felt he needed a change, and he will make a fine administrator one day. I appreciate all he’s done.”
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