When you talk about the successful tradition of basketball at Valley Regional High School, one main component of the success has been the connectivity and closeness of all coaches involved. It is a game that starts at the middle school stage and continues all the way into playing at home on a Friday night for the Warriors. With this, it was a no-brainer to bring on Scott Harger as the new freshman head coach and varsity assistant.
Following growing up in Vernon, where he played on the court while also being an All-State track athlete, Scott coached basketball 13 years at St. Bernard's School. Now being a Valley parent with two daughters in the volleyball program, Scott found out about the Warriors' opening through their coach. Given his investment in the high school and his community connections with players through the game, Scott felt that this spot was the perfect pick and roll for him to take to the hoop.
"Kathy Scott, the head coach on the volleyball team, told me about the opening for a coach. I asked about it, went through the interviewing process, and got the job," says Scott, who has also coached golf. "I know a lot of the kids around the area in the Valley program so I really wanted to take this job and help out the kids I know, along with the others."
While also being a part of the Valley community, Scott sees the order of operation compared to his previous stop as an added incentive to guide the Warriors on the hardwood. He sees the sport as something that just doesn't sprout freshman year when high school begins, but moreso something that has deep roots at the grade school level.
"At St. Bernard's, it was not really a program because a lot of the kids do not know each other due to the fact they are all from different towns," says Scott, whose freshman squad has started the season 5-1. "The program here though starts at the 5th and 6th grade levels, which is just great. I just like how it builds up from the middle school level. The coaches of younger kids have come up to me and asked me about things concerning the game and the program here. Everyone is on the same page and I love the format of it."
Aside from the setting Scott is now in, he also takes great pride in watching kids appreciate the game both on the court, along with when they are on the bench. He also eyes that not only winning, but also winning with class, is another measure of greatness that comes with the territory.
"A great joy of coaching is when kids learn, improve, and also come together as a team," says Scott. "It is great when you see players from the bench root for others to score on the court. The teammates should always be cheering on the others. It is a big thing to win, but ultimately, you want to win with sportsmanship."
In trying to figure out his methods, the new bench boss feels that even at the high school level, there should be a commitment to stopping points as well as producing them. Scott also feels that at no point should this game be considered a "job" for players and coaches.
"People look at coaching and think it must be stressful for us, yet I find it quite enjoyable," says the Warriors' coach. "I have always felt that if you think it's a chore, then you should step away. You should be playing a sport because you like that particular game. I also feel coaching is a lot about watching kids playing hard. If I see someone who may not have all the stats, but is playing 100 percent, I will play him over the other guy. I also feel that defense wins games, so we have been trying to teach more on defense as well."
Adds Warriors' Head Coach Kevin Woods: "It's great to have someone like Scott who understands kids we have playing in our three towns, along with what Valley athletes are all about, having two daughters on the volleyball team. It's especially nice to see him coaching the freshmen squad, where it's crucial to teach the fundamentals of the game."
In evaluating what he has taken away from the game and beginning another chapter in it, Scott feels we should all take a step back with sports and enjoy it for what is truly is: a game and something fun.
"Sometimes people will get upset when their kids are not playing, but I just try to make everyone know that it's a game, so just enjoy it," says Scott, who thanks coaches Don Dunning and Tim Paine, along Woods, for his success. "I want the kids to enjoy this game, and more importantly, not hate it after I have coached them."