Who says you can't go home? Some homecomings occur sooner rather than later. In the case of Chester "Chet" Harper, it took 30 years, but he is returning to his alma mater, Alliance High School, to lead the boys' basketball team.
The job, vacant following the resignation of Sean Weatherspoon, who like Harper, jumped at the opportunity to return home and become head coach of the Canton McKinley basketball team earlier this spring. Weatherspoon was at the helm for only one season, but it was successful in the fact the boys' team took home a share of the Eastern Buckeye Conference crown (9-1 in conference action) and a 15-9 overall record.
Harper is a 1993 graduate of Alliance with coaching experience that began in 2001 when he was the head JV coach at Canton Timken High School. He remained in Canton for the duration of his coaching experience prior to this move. He has also served as Lead Assistant Varsity Coach at Timken before taking over the same role for Canton McKinley. From 2018-2021, Harper served as the Associate Head Coach for the Bulldogs, which included a District Championship in 2020.
Quotes from the Alliance City Schools press release announcing the hiring include:
Harper: “First, I want to thank Superintendent (Rob) Gress and the Alliance Board of Education for this wonderful opportunity. I am grateful and humbled by this moment. Not many can say they have been blessed with the chance to come home and lead such a historic basketball program, such as that of Alliance High School. This is a dream come true and provides me the space to give back to the community that not only embraced me, but shaped me as a young man and student-athlete.”
Athletic Director Tim Goodman: “We’re honored to have an alum returning to AHS to coach the team he once played for. Chet’s history of coaching and his teams’ successes at Canton set him apart along with his belief and values, which match those of Alliance City Schools. I look forward to seeing him lead these young men and help build them into leaders, high performers, and caring citizens both on and off the court.”
Prior to Weatherspoons solo season at the helm of the Boys program, the Aviators were piloted by Larry Kukura who led the program for 17 seasons after 3 seasons as prior head coach Shawn Jacksons' right-hand man. He amassed a 269-122 record, including a 20-0 campaign in 2011-2012 and 3 consecutive trips to the Division 2 District Championship game (2012-2014), falling each time to Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary. The 269 wins are a school record, surpassing the famed coach and namesake of the school's gymnasium, Harry Fails, who accrued 240 victories in his tenure of 16 seasons in the 1970's and 1980's.
Image and Quotes courtesy of Alliance City Schools Social Media Announcement of the Hiring.
*Hiring is pending Alliance City School Board Approval at their next assigned meeting.