Sports

New Cedarcrest coach is undefeated going into first season

DUVALL—The 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

person."

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.

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