Morgan Harrington to follow in footsteps of her father

News-DemocratJune 11, 2014 

The daughter of a college basketball coach for longer than she can remember, Morgan Harrington is ready to take over the role as the coach in the Harrington family.

Harrington, 24, has been named as an assistant women's basketball coach at Lindenwood University St. Charles in Missouri.

A 2012 graduate of Lindenwood, where she played for two years after transferring from Missouri State, Harrington will be the recruiting coordinator and will work with the Lady Lions guards.

The appointment comes less than a month after her father, National Junior College Athletic Association Hall of Fame coach Jay Harrington, announced he is stepping down after more than 30 years as men's basketball coach and athletic director at Southwestern Illinois College.

"I am ready to be coach Harrington instead of coach Harrington Jr,'' Harrington said. "I think we (his family) saw it (retirement) coming. Dad is a lot older than people think. I think he and my mom are ready are ready to take it a little easier. Enjoy each other a little more now that us girls are grown up and off the payroll.''

"Coaching at the college level is a dream come true. Basketball is what I know. It's what I grew up doing. I played all year. I played in high school, I played and traveled with my AAU team in the summer and I played college basketball. I'm very excited about and thankful for the opportunity to be part of this program and university.''

Led by veteran coach Tony Francis, the Lady Lions are an NCAA Division II program which competes in the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association. Lindenwood finished 14-14 during the 2013-14 season.

Although her college career was plagued by injuries, which included two knee operations and five stress fractures, Harrington made her mark as a player with the Lady Lions.

A point guard, Harrington averaged 11.9 points, 2.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game and is the career leader in free-throw percentage, making over 90 percent during her two years.

After graduating from Lindenwood, Harrington has spent the past two years as a graduate assistant at Murray State University in Kentucky.

Harrington began her official duties on June 2 and will spend most of July traveling to AAU events to scout potential players for the Lady Lions.

Because she played at Lindenwood and is shares many of same values and coaching philosophy as Francis, Harrington said the transition has gone well.

"It's s been pretty easy, because I understand the character of the kid that coach Francis wants in his program. I know the type player he wants -- skills wise-- because I know what he expects on the court in the type of system that we're going to play in,'' Harrington said. "That's why I think I will be able relate to the kids, because he (Francis) was my coach and so I know what they're going through. I can be there to support them.

"But I also believe in his vision and what he's doing over there, and so it's easy for me to be on board.''

Because of her injuries during her college career, Harrington hopes to help make the college experience special for her players.

She also will draw upon the fact that she is a coach's daughter and the lessons and coaching values that she learned from watching him.

"Watching dad for as long as I can remember, I guess you could say that coaching is in my blood,'' Harrington said. I've learned from my dad that coaching isn't just about what happens on the floor. It's about building relationships. I think he's done a great job of doing that.

"He's really hard on the kids on the floor, but he takes care of them off the floor. Coaching is about trust. It's about loyalty. It's about hard work. Those are the things I've learned from my dad about coaching and what I'll carry with me for as long as I coach.''

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