By: Steve Mathies, Herald and News, Klamath Falls, OR
December 25, 2005
It still is, but there are other degree programs to be completed first for Tara Harrington, Oregon's first high school All-American girls basketball player.
The affable Harrington has taken the fall term off to help with things at home. In January, she heads back to Chapel Hill, N.C., where she is set to receive a master's degree in business administration in June. A master's degree in health services looms in June of 2007.
“I still want to go to medical school,” she said while relishing the recent snow, something she had not seen since the winter of 1999-2000 when Harrington was an assistant women's basketball coach at Montana State University.
She might be “home,” but Harrington certainly is not taking life easy. She recently spent two days in Los Angeles securing a summer internship. She had hoped to attend the Tennessee at Stanford women's basketball game in November. She has been spending time helping Tom Loney and the Oregon Tech women's basketball team.
“I like the coaching part of basketball,” Harrington said. Her appearances at Danny Miles Court have helped eliminate the bitter taste she had after her experience at Montana State, where head coaches were changed between her two seasons there. It was a less than amicable split.
She smiles easily now. Her time with the Hustlin' Owls has helped. So has time with her parents, Len and Sue. Brother Ty, and his wife, were home for Thanksgiving, having traveled to Klamath Falls from Alabama.
Her father said before a December OIT game that he thinks his daughter relishes coaching. “This has been fun, just a lot of fun,” Harrington said after the Hustlin' Owls beat Evergreen State and hand the Geoducks their first conference loss of the season.
Tara Harrington still carries herself with the grace that helped her, and her Mazama teammates, begin to put Southern Oregon Conference on the girls state basketball map. The Vikings placed twice when Harrington played, including a third-place finish after a semifinal loss to power Oregon City, something no other SOC girls basketball team ever had done. The Vikings also played in tournaments in New York City and in Ohio.
Harrington then left for Stanford, where she was able to use basketball to get an education.
Her collective basketball exploits helped whet her appetite for travel. She drove to a pair of recent road games, both OIT wins. During November and December, she has taken notes, made little suggestions and made new friends. “It's been great and the girls really respond to her,” Loney said recently. “The girls look up to her. They respect her. Everybody will miss her.”
“I really like her helping out,” sophomore Ashley DuBrey, who played high school basketball at Triad, said. “It's always nice to have another coach.”
Senior Samantha Gilbert, who played high school basketball at Klamath Union, said: “She knows everything and is really helping us reach our potential. She has been a big help.”
Loney said Harrington has been a nice additional to the Owls this fall. “She brings a lot to the table,” the fourth-year OIT women's coach said. “She helped add a new wrinkle to our offense, which was something she ran at Stanford. “It's been nice having a female on the staff, giving us ideas about the game I don't know. She has helped both the players and the coaches.” More than being another coach, however, is the role Harrington plays. “She's such a strong person. She's a good role model,” DuBrey said. Loney said: “Everybody will miss her.”
Harrington said leaving the Oregon Tech women's basketball program will be, on the one hand, sad, but, at the same time, she looks forward to her future.