Not too long ago, Mike Harding truly thought he might not be any good at this head-coaching thing.
Sure, Harding had been around the game of basketball his whole life. He was a former Lawrence High and Div. I college standout at Georgia Southern in the late 1980s. He’d even coached on the AAU level as an assistant to the likes of former Kansas University players Wayne Simien and Jeff Hawkins.
“High school is different from AAU,” Harding said. “In AAU, you can show up in shorts and turn your hat backwards and coach. This one was serious.”
Harding thought long and hard about the challenge presented to him this summer when a head-coaching position opened at Seabury. This was an opportunity to mold a program almost from scratch — a Class 1A state-affiliated school coming off just two wins the year before.
He decided to give it a shot thanks to the support of close family.
“My parents and my wife and daughters told me not to sell myself short and just trust in myself,” Harding said.
Harding also received the backing of athletic director Eric Nelson.
“I wasn’t worried about his inexperience,” Nelson said. “I just had a gut feeling that his attitude and all the other things about his personality would come through.”
Harding’s passion and enthusiasm for the game radiated from the sidelines during games and in practices, instilling confidence in his players that they could go where they never had before.
By early March, Harding had led the Seahawks to a 10-win turnaround and their best year ever, a 12-8 season that culminated with the team’s first ever berth in the Class 1A sub-state tournament.
In doing so, Harding also earned the Journal-World’s All-Area Boys Basketball Coach of the Year distinction in his first season at Seabury.
Turns out, he’s pretty darned good at this whole head-coaching thing, after all.