Coach resigns after five years at the Tiger’s helm
Wednesday afternoon, March 24, Pigeon Forge Boys Basketball Coach Bobby Harper brought down the curtain on the first act of the Tiger program be resigning as Head Coach. Harper has been at Pigeon Forge since the beginning.
The coach is going out on top, but said that wasn’t really a factor. “We’re just looking at the off-season back to conditioning and back to the weight room and starting all over again for another season. I’m just not as hungry as I needed to be. As a coach you’re either in it all the way to do your very best or you need to get out,” said Harper.
Under his guidance the young program has come a long way in its first four years. In 2000 the Tigers went 10-15 in their first season, playing Division 1-A basketball with no upperclassmen. The next season the Tigers were 9-18 playing their first year in AA. Last year the team went above the .500 mark with a 17-14 record and a trip to the regional tournament. This season Pigeon Forge made a name for itself, going 26-9, collecting the district regular season crown, the district tournament title, the regional title and was only a tick of the clock away from a sub-state win that would have sent the team to Murfreesboro for the state tournament.
“It’s been a exhausting for us to get to this point,” Harper told the Herald. “When you start a new program, at a new school, its manual labor to upgrade facilities, which we’ve done.
There is really just alot of pressure that’s come with it.” The coach says he’s going to take it easy for a while. Some of the added stress this season with family matters and with the program added up. “just before season was pretty stressful, some things happened,” said the coach. “Then I had that suspension issue and had to miss my guys Senior Night. I t took a toll on me and I just needed a break.”
Harper’s feeling is that he has left the program in good shape. “I think we’ll have a good team next year. It’s my hope the program is strong year in and year out. You look at these college programs like Duke, that can graduate a Battier, but just reload every season to be in the title hunt, I would hope that the program would remain strong through the years, that was our intention.”
Harper was 62-56 at Pigeon Forge and brought a deep coaching back ground to the Tigers. Harper coached the Gatlinburg-Pittman’s girls team from 1987 to 1995 (164-98) and started his career at Morristown West where he went 226-154 in 13 seasons. Ironically Morristown West was the site of Harper’s first varsity game as a coach and maybe his last, as West hosted the Tiger’s sub-state “home” game due to TSSAA seating requirements that kept the game out of Maples gym at PFHS.
Harper is remaining on staff at Pigeon Forge as a teacher. Asked about future coaching opportunities, Harper mentioned his family. “I plan to stay in Pigeon Forge, my son has three more years before he graduates, but surprises can happen. I’m not ruling out coming back (to coaching) somewhere down the line.”
Pigeon Forge Principal Perry Schrandt is planning on opening the search for a new Head Coach this week. Schrandt expects to receive lots of interest in the position from outside and inside the school. Once Schrandt narrows the list down, the inal candidates will take interviews with Dr. Jack Parton as well.