Meet Boys Varsity Basketball Coach Rich Harris

Rich Harris in front of MPA BannerWhat was your playing career like?
I played four years in high school in Oklahoma and was the starting point guard my senior year. I then played point guard at Southwestern College, an NAIA school in Winfield, Kansas, graduating in 1996.

What coaching experience do you bring to MPA?
After finishing my college career, I stayed on for one year as a student assistant. Since, I have coached a variety of different levels of basketball and many schools. Some highlights include coaching the freshman boys team at Southeast High School in Wichita, coaching JV boys and then Varsity boys at the American School of Doha in Qatar (we went undefeated in 2011), assistant coaching girls Varsity and then boys Varsity at American School in London, coaching Middle School and High School boys at the International Schools Groups in Saudi Arabia (we went 21-4 record and won the conference championship during the 2018-19 season), and coaching girls JV here at MPA. The girls at MPA taught me compassion and commitment and I will never forget that.

What is it about MPA that makes it a great place to coach?
The kids! MPA has such wonderful students who want to succeed. Also, the faculty and staff has been very supportive.

Gives us a brief summary of your coaching philosophy.
My philosophy is simple. Don’t let anyone outwork you. I believe in giving 100% all the time. I want my team to never give up. I try to emphasize that nothing is impossible. I believe that integrity is the most important value. Always doing the right thing, even if nobody is watching.

What is your goal for this season?
The main goal is to compete in every game. That starts with practice and even off the court, I am never willing to settle for mediocrity. I want to create a culture of winning for the boys basketball program. That starts with a belief that we will win every game. The goal is to get everyone involved with the program to buy into that belief.

What direction do you see program going in in the future?
I strive to create a culture of success, not just on the court, but off the court as well. That means our players are succeeding in the classroom and leading by example. I want MPA student athletes to continue to do the right thing and exhibit great sportsmanship. I want every player from our Middle School and High School programs to understand that having integrity and respect for everyone is just as, if not more important, than winning. I’d like to instill a feeling of pride in all the players that play for me, I’d like and for them to feel pride in playing for MPA. GO PANTHERS!

 

Meet Boys Varsity Basketball Assistant Coach Nate Bander ‘09

Nate Bander in front of MPA bannerWhat was your playing career like?
I grew up playing basketball from the moment I could dribble! In Middle School, I played for MPA teams as well as through the Woodbury Athletic Association. In high school, I was a two year varsity starter and earned All-Conference (Honorable Mention) as a senior. I finished my career third all-time in rebounds at MPA. I also competed in cross country and track and field.

What coaching experience do you bring to MPA?
This is my sixth season coaching basketball at MPA. I have coached at all levels from Middle School to C/JV to Varsity Assistant. I have two really proud moments coaching at MPA. The first is when my C Team won seven games in a row and we celebrated as a team with an ice cream cake. The second memory is when our varsity team went on a tear through the Section 4A tournament in 2018, upsetting three teams and making it all the way to the championship game where we missed out on going to the state tournament by just eight points. I really enjoy the behind the scenes work of coaching, coordinating transportation, overseeing our team managers, running social media, and taking the lead in practice. I also coach cross country and track and field at MPA.

What is it about MPA that makes it a great place to coach?
MPA’s no cut policy is a huge difference maker. This means that kids who want to try a variety of different sports and extracurriculars are able to so without fear of being cut from the team. It means that we as coaches benefit from a wide variety of types of kids on our team. Of course we have kids who live and breathe basketball, but we also have kids who are out for the team to stay in shape for soccer, or kids who are out for basketball because they like being part of a team and enjoy spending time with their friends. I love that the basketball court is an extension of the classroom too. I don’t think there are many schools where the student athletes continue talking about what was discussed in Physics that day while at basketball practice. It makes coaching at MPA a really enriching experience.

Gives us a brief summary of your coaching philosophy.
I always remember that we are coaching young men in our program. I see a lot of coaches who have the mindset that they are coaching in the NBA, and treat their high schoolers accordingly. My philosophy is all about the balance of holding players accountable and understanding that they are learning how to be teammates, friends, and basketball players. We work on many of the soft skills that are needed for life outside basketball like understanding your role, working out conflict, leading by example and goal setting. Once those are established, the shooting, passing, defense and rebounding comes much more easily.

What is your goal for this season?
This is going to be a season unlike any other due to COVID-19. My goal is for our student athletes, especially our fantastic seniors, to have a joyful experience. My goal is also that everyone in our program understands how to safe throughout COVID-19 and that we as a team are not subjected to any COVID-19 outbreaks.

What direction do you see program going in in the future?
The future is incredibly bright in our program. We have been very intentional about bringing our program down to the Middle and Lower Schools over the last few years through the Junior Panther of the game program, summer camps, little dribblers, and strong Middle School teams. As a result, we have a number of exceptionally talented players waiting in the wings, ready to take the reins of our varsity program in the next years. I see MPA basketball reestablishing itself as a team that goes deep into the Section 4 tournament each year, just like we did in 2018, and having a legitimate chance to make it to state.

 

Meet Boys Varsity Basketball Assistant Coach Matt Bander ‘11

Matt Bander in front of MPA BannerWhat was your playing career like?
I grew up playing basketball from a young age. I have always loved the game, whether it was growing up playing on the driveway or being asked to come on the court with the Harlem Globetrotters as a kid, I was always around basketball. When I got to high school, I was a two year varsity player and won the Mr. Hustle Award as a senior. I also competed in Track and Field at MPA.

What coaching experience do you bring to MPA?
This is my fourth year coaching at MPA. I was an assistant in the high school program for two years, and last year I coached the sixth grade team at MPA and we went undefeated in regular season and made it to the semifinals of the CAA tournament.

What is it about MPA that makes it a great place to coach?
MPA is a great place to coach because of the attitude and personalities of the players and the close knit coaching staff.

Gives us a brief summary of your coaching philosophy.
We aren’t always the biggest, strongest or most skilled team, but I want every MPA student athlete to take pride in what we do and to hold themselves to a higher standard. I want kids to play like they mean it and love basketball.

What is your goal for this season?
My goal for our high school programs this season is to play as a functioning unit that moves together. Personally, my coaching goal is to motivate our younger players to take on leadership roles at an early stage in their careers.

What direction do you see program going in in the future?
My goals for the future of our program are centered around encouraging teamwide accountability and continuing to promote a love of for the game of basketball.

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