Prep Basketball: Lincoln's Sydney Harris' father is always part of the winning journey
Lincoln County senior Sydney Harris (22), left, hugged her father, Billy Harris, after the Patriots won a second straight 12th Region title. She says she's glad her father has always been part of her successful basketball career. (Clay Jackson / Clay Jackson / January 23, 2013)
She is part of what is probably the best team in her school’s history, one that succeeded at the state tournament last year and is headed back for a second act in her senior year.
And her father, Billy Harris, has been coaching his daughter through every step of her basketball career, from her earliest days on the court to her most recent ractice with the Lincoln County girls.
He has watched her grow as a person and an athlete, and he has contributed to that growth in ways that most fathers don’t get to do.
Their player-coach relationship will end this week in Bowling Green, however, when Lincoln plays its final game in the Girls Sweet Sixteen. The Patriots face Owensboro Catholic in the first round Thursday afternoon.
“It’s just cool to be able to share it with him,” Sydney Harris said. “It’s one of those memories that we’ll both never forget.”
It isn’t cool for father and daughter to think the same thing is cool, but Dad thinks it’s pretty cool, too.
“It definitely is very special. I don’t really have the words to describe it,” Billy Harris said, his voice breaking just a bit. “She’s a special girl, and it’s been a pleasure of mine to get to coach her and come up with her since she was in third grade.”
Sydney Harris has had other coaches — she answers to head coach Cassandra McWhorter at Lincoln, and others have coached her in AAU — but Billy Harris has been with her for most of her practices and games since she first decided she wanted to give basketball a try.
“For me it’s normal because growing up he was my coach starting in third grade. That’s when I started playing, and he’s been my coach all the way through, so for me this is normal,” Sydney Harris said.
“She used to be in gymnastics, and (then) she started growing. She came to me one day and said, ‘Dad, I think I want to try basketball,’” Billy Harris said. “I said, ‘Fantastic. Let’s do it.’ She wanted to start playing little league, so I started coaching her in little league. It just kind of blossomed from there.”
“She truly is a daddy’s girl. There’s no other way around it,” said Susan Harris, Sydney’s mother and Billy’s wife.
Their partnership has culminated with consecutive 12th Region championships for Lincoln.
“It’s a great feeling,” Sydney Harris said. “The (Lincoln) boys did it back in ’06 and ’07, I think, so for us to be able to do that, too — I grew up watching them and they were like my idols growing up, so for me to do the same thing they did is really cool.”
Billy Harris said he and Lincoln’s other coaches have tried to impress upon their players just how special that is.
“It’s a blessing,” he said. “We’ve told them, ‘You’ve been blessed to do something that’s never been accomplished in school history as far as girls basketball is concerned.”
She is one of a handful of Lincoln players whom her father has coached since long before they were in high school. Billy Harris said his daughter played with current teammates Chansler Gilbert and Ciara Saylor on his little league team, and Kourtney Belcher, Emily Fox and Rachel Spangler joined them on the AAU team he coached when she was in the fourth and fifth grades.
Susan Harris said her husband has been good not only for Sydney, but also for her teammates.
“I’m glad he’s down there with her because he’s been with her and those girls for so long that I think he is very calming for them,” she said.