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New Cedarcrest coach is undefeated going into first season
DUVALLThe new boys' basketball coach at Cedarcrest
High School already had one controversial victory under his belt before his
team took the court for its first preseason practice last week.
Vice Principal Ray LaBate was selected to guide the Red Wolves
varsity program from a field of three candidates, including one former
professional player who was willing to do the job for free. LeBate
replaces former Athletic Director Ray Wilson, who left Duvall in July to become
the full-time athletic director at Issaquah High.
Jim Marsh, who played for the Portland Trailblazers and Utah
Jazz during his professional career and spent time as part of the
Seattle Supersonic's broadcast team after his playing days were done, was
the former pro. He threw his name into contention after coaching
Cedarcrest standout Michael Smith in a summer league in Los Angeles.
"Jim is a great leader and really loves to teach the kids the skills of
the game," said Linda Smith, Michael's mother. "He knew about the
teams' lack of success in recent years and just wanted to help the kids."
Marsh told the interview committee that he would decline the
$3,400 stipend for coaching and urged the administration to use the money
instead to host a holiday basketball tournament or to buy matching warm
ups for the team.
LaBate, like Wilson, will be dividing his time between coaching and
his administrative duties. Wilson left Cedarcrest this summer citing his
desire to focus on just one responsibility and to spend more time with
his two children. Like Wilson, LaBate is also the father of a young family.
"I like Ray and think he is a good vice principal," said the mother of
another Cedarcrest player. "But to me he will be in the same situation as
Ray Wilson. He will be wearing two hats and trying to divide his time
between his duties at school and his family."
LaBate said he actually applied for the head coaching position with
the full support of his wife. She insisted that he was a happier person
around the house when he is involved with coaching.
The new coach previously served as an assistant basketball coach
at Eastern Washington University and at North Adams College, a Division
III school in Massachusetts. LaBate left academics for private business,
but returned three years later to serve as athletic director and principal for a
K-12 school in Eastern Washington. He coached both boys and girls
basketball as well as football at the small school.
LaBate earned his undergraduate degree from Fort Lewis College
in Durango, Colorado, and his master's from Eastern Washington in Cheney.
"But I missed coaching," he explained. "I think it is very
important for a coach at the high school level to be on campus for more than just
practice and games. It is important to know the athlete as a student and as a
Cedarcrest Principal Clarence Lavarias and Athletic Director
Josh Garcia have pitched in to allow LaBate to cover his expanded duties.
Garcia understands the burden. He is a classroom teacher and head
wrestling coach in addition to his administrative role.
Marsh told the parents he was sorry he was apparently unable to
convince the selection committee to trust someone from the outside. In
contrast to the other candidates, Marsh arrived for his interview dressed in shorts
as if he was ready to play ball.
The former NBA player, who now runs camps and clinics for
high school-aged players, said the Cedarcrest position was the first
time he had actually been asked to interview for a job.