Friday, September 23, 2011

Alan Stein on Charlie Harper!

"You can be successful and not significant. (Success has to do with achieving goals, significance is about impacting lives)" Alan Stein

Alan Stein does not know Charlie Harper and his Lady Rohawk program. Stein is one of the most respected and recognized strength and conditioning trainers in basketball. Stein may not know Coach Harper but his tweet this morning provided a perfect description of Harper and his relevance to San Antonio girls basketball.

Noelle Kindred is a Lady Rohawk. Even though she has moved on to college basketball, she will tell you that she is a Lady Rohawk to the core. Kindred has an older sister, Nicole, who also played for the Lady Rohawks and matriculated to Our Lady of the Lake to play basketball. The Kindred sisters have a younger sister name Natasha. Natasha is too a Lady Rohawk and she is the most talented of all three sisters. Nathasha and Nicole have size, length, athleticism that college coaches look for. They also play(ed) major minutes for MacArthur High School. Noelle is not blessed with the same physical attributes as her two sisters. She played sparingly for MacArthur during her time there. However, Noelle is PLAYING college basketball for free. Noelle is attending Iowa Community College and her first two years of education are being paid for. This is the type of significance that Charlie Harper and his Lady Rohawk program has on the lives of his players.

Gone are the days when Coach Harper had BCS caliber players like his daughter CeCe(Kansas), Monica Engleman(Kansas), and Sune Agbuke(Baylor). Many believed that Harper's days were numbered as a successful club director when CeCe left to college. Since CeCe's departure, Harper has HELPED 11 out of 11 seniors graduate to college basketball programs!

The Lady Rohawks played in the ShesBallin Extravaganza this past April. The Rohawks took a beating on the court. An opposing coach was overheard saying "mismatch" after his team beat the Rohawks by 50 or so points. No onlooker could claim that Harper was being successful at that time; except Coach Harper.

Harper puts little significance into winning and losing club basketball games. He can care less if kids barely earn playing time for their high school teams. In fact, he is almost "blinded" by his mission. The first time I saw this perceived "lack of foresight" was two years ago. We were sitting in a gym watching his daughter CeCe play against Reagan. Reagan had a junior guard on the team that barely played. He leaned over to me and whispered, "I'm going to get that kid into school." I thought he was crazy! This kid looked good in warm ups and at halftime but played no more than 10 minutes in a high school game. I wondered how a kid that could not garner playing time as a junior in high school basketball was going to thrive on the ultra competitive club circuit that the Rohawks play on. By that June, I saw how shortsighted I had been. I was the one who was apparently blinded by perception. I saw the Reagan bench player hold her own against a loaded TeamXpess team that featured BCS guards in Len'Nique Brown, KiKi Ageous and Meighan Simmons. I had to take notice of the newly transformed player and learn her name was Alicia Houston. Houston went on to have a great summer and played major minutes for Reagan her senior year. More importantly, she went on to earn a scholarship to Midwestern State, a Division 2 school in Central Texas.

Speaking from a SUCCESS standpoint, one could make the argument that Harper has not achieved what other clubs in the city have as of late. Harper can not claim dozens of BCS kids on his website. Harper can not claim to have beaten the so called best club teams in the city over the last few years. What Harper can claim is that every senior kid in his program has graduated to a college basketball opportunity. Just as important, his impact on their lives is evident.

When Harper is working his graveyard shift, he gets frequent text messages from his former players seeking his advice. Some text how much they miss him and learned from him. One recent text was from Ebony Watkins. The UTA freshman quit the Lady Rohawks going into her junior year. She came back for a senior season that catapulted her onto the national scene. Those who know Ebony can not deny the maturity that she developed under the tutelage of Harper.

Success is relative. The same coach who beat the Lady Rohawks badly and yelled "mismatch" is having success with the help of Harper. Harper taught a young recent grad to dribble. He paid trainers to work with this kid when his job would not allow for him to work with her and his team. This player chose one of the most prestigious schools in the country and will be playing basketball this season at this school. The coach who yelled mismatch helped train this kid for a short period of time, yet put her matriculation on his website as one of his success stories. True, this coach helped her but it was Charlie Harper and his Lady Rohawk program that nurtured this kid and had the most impact on her BASKETBALL destination.

In a recent meeting with Harper, I found him to be kind of rude. He takes dozens of calls in the middle of conversation. He can be loud, his laugh at a decibel that can be heard two blocks away. He will leave his guest waiting; waiting on him to take calls from coaches as he constantly promotes his players. His phone calls and interruptions during meetings are a humbling experience. I found myself listening to call after call from former players who just wanted a little of his time. They seek his advice, they thank him for his frequent text messages of encouragement.

In a day where some club coaches charge exorbitant fees to provide recruiting assistance for their own kids to get in school, Harper is winning. In the day where club coaches constantly recruit over their own players to chase trophies, Harper is successful. In the day of kids playing for club coaches and despising the experience with regret, Harper is leading the pack. Unfortunately, some of us are so far behind that we think we are winning!