Coach of 2012 hoops champs moves closer to home
By Andy Reed
Between rent and gas, traveling to Friendship Christian School every day was taking its toll on Cleve Harris, who has cut his commute significantly by accepting a position to be finalized at Ensworth.
Harris, 51, coached the Commanders' boys' basketball team for three seasons, guiding them to their only state championship in the sport in 2012. The Memphis native went 61-24 in three seasons, including last winter's rebuilding 10-15 campaign.
He will coach either boys, girls or both basketball teams at Ensworth, located on Highway 100 in the southwest part of Nashville, just down the road from his Fairview home.
"I enjoy both," said Harris, who will meet Ensworth's boys on Monday before he and athletic director Ricky Bowers sit down to decide which team, or both, he will coach. "I've been doing this all my life.
"I'm just really fired up about being close to my home again."
Harris has been paying a mortgage on his Fairview home and doling out rent on a residence in Hermitage while working at FCS.
"Those guys [Friendship] were very, very good to me," Harris said. "[Principal] Randall [Dunn felt bad I had to leave, but he knew I had to do what I had to do, and I hadn't heard an administrator say that in a long time.
"I just wish I had known I was leaving earlier, but all of this happened this last Saturday… and I finalized it Tuesday night."
Friendship had been to seven sectionals under four different coaches since 1986 but were unable to advance to state when Harris, an uncle of former Tennessee star Tony Harris, was hired from Christ Presbyterian. After losing an eighth sectional in his first season, Harris' Commanders finally shattered the glass ceiling in 2012, not only reaching Murphy Center, but taking the gold ball on their first try, one of six state titles for the school the last two years.
"I liked my three years there," Harris said. "I hate leaving it when we're going into a new division because it was going to be a challenge for me."
But while Friendship is going to Division II, Class A, Harris will be in D-II, Class I, a division Ensworth has enjoyed great success in in several sports.
"I'm going to have fun anyway, no matter what," Harris said.