New Lady Eagles leader acknowledges legend’s influence on career

The Barbers Hill athletic program went with a winner to replace a winner to lead the Lady Eagles girls basketball program.

On Saturday, the school’s athletic director Tom Westerberg announced the hiring of the now-former Manvel head girls basketball coach Bryan Harris to replace Tri Danley who left for Seminole two weeks ago.

Harris brings a 2014 Class 5A state title under his belt to Mont Belvieu and comes to town following a 27-4 record last spring after falling in the Region 3 Final.

“It’s a new challenge and I am excited to get going with Barbers Hill,” Harris said.

Harris will also be the athletic coordinator for all the Lady Eagles programs.

“I spent four or five years as a department chair, so I have worked serving people and, in that aspect,” Harris said. “I want to take care of basketball, but also have a job to do and that is to serve and try to help people as much as I can.”

Harris said he is about work ethic and having teams compete and Barbers Hill is all about that.

“If you took a poll in the Houston area, they’d probably say they are one of the top 10 programs where every single program competes,” Harris said. “That’s big and the community atmosphere. This is one-horse town in a big community and that appeals to me.”

Harris has enjoyed a competitive history battling Barbers Hill on the court and he enjoyed playing “well-coached” teams.

“Manvel and Barbers Hill have rich traditions in basketball and that’s a testament to the people that were there and what they built,” Harris said. “My philosophy is to come in and maintain it and make it better.”

Winning has come easy for Harris and that is born from discipline and high expectations for work ethic.

“I preach trying to go as hard as you can, you emulate your coach and as a player I was very competitive,” Harris said. “My philosophy in coaching is just work hard. (The philosophy) depends on your athletes and what you can do. The coach has to adjust to the athletes that they have and the region that they are in. My job is to put the kids on the court in a way that makes them successful.”

Harris is a graduate of the University of Tennessee and was a member of the men’s practice team that battled it out with the Lady Volunteers basketball team that was led by the legendary Pat Summitt.”

Originally Harris was hoping to study pre-law, but then his exposure to Summitt and the program changed his world.

“I was told I get treated like an athlete, I get to meet Pat Summitt and I get to go up against the best girls in the country,” Harris said. “I was like, ‘I’m not playing against girls,’ that was my ego early on. Then I went out there and I was like ‘I’ll try it.’ Then I realized these girls were tenacious and they get after it.’ As the practice players went out there it gave me a chance to be a part of something: A team.

“We didn’t miss layups on purpose and played defense unlike the Washington Generals. The first few weeks we were in awe because growing up in New Jersey, I heard of Pat Summitt. Over the next couple of years, I really found a love for basketball and my mindset change said, ‘I might want to do this.’”

Summitt helped Harris get a year as walk on for the men’s program.

“I had three great years of learning from one of the best,” Summitt said. “I was taking notes and asking Coach Summitt if I could work with her as an intern, breaking down film and I fell in love with it.

“All of my mentors and all I associated with were on the girls’ side and I felt they were really helping me move forward.”

When Harris went to grad school in Indiana, the law thing was done and dusted, and he was now a basketball guy. One that hopes to instill his greatest lesson learned at the hand of a legend.

“Discipline yourself so no one else has to, that’s her famous philosophy,” Harris said. “She was a disciplinarian and I don’t know if I am one on that level. It’s all about team and that’s what’s very important and what she instilled in me.”

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