Granada Hills Charter High School (GHC) volleyball coach Thomas Harp received yet another Open Division Coach of the Year for City Section Award by the National Federation of State High School Association, adding to his collection of awards for coaching boys and girls volleyball.
He has coached boys volleyball for 35 years, and girls volleyball for 11 years, but maintaining his reputation isn’t easy. Rival teams have expectations, so the stakes become higher with every game.
“You have to change things from year to year, depending on strengths and weaknesses, and hope the general philosophy stays the same. General philosophy meaning hard work and trying to get the players to develop a ‘team first’ attitude, then teaching basic fundamentals of volleyball and going from there,” Harp said. “We also believe in the motto, ‘victory with honor’ and we try to abide by that.”
During tryouts, choosing which players to join the team can be difficult. Fortunately, most girls who make the team have had experience from playing in club volleyball. But choosing boys is a different story. Most have little to no previous experience and Harp needs to start from scratch, but with his coaching and the help of other teammates, they manage to make major improvements and win city titles.
Harp has been teaching at GHC since 1983, where he started out as a football coach. Due to illness, the existing volleyball coach had to step down, and Harp took the open position. He found himself enjoying it as GHC fosters a very competitive program, with the teams consistently succeeding in playoffs and earning the title of League Champions.
“I learned from a lot of coaches who I have worked with over the past. I saw what was successful from another coach and put it in my program. You just do things that feel right for yourself,” Harp said.
Under Harp, so far in girls volleyball, all three teams, frosh/soph, junior varsity, and varsity, have won ten out of eleven League Championships.
Some players that Harp has coached have even grown up to be coaches themselves.
“I’m proud of the players developing and maturing, and proud of the people they become,” Harp said.
GHC is looking forward to the next volleyball season in the spring for boys. With Harp as the coach, the team is confident they will take the win.