- Albemarle Neighbor
Camden County High School Coach Mark Harnly watches his players with an earnest focus. Harnly is serious about his players and the game.
As boys basketball coach, Harnley achieved a record 300 career wins last Jan. 2012 with an energetic enthusiasm for the game and his team of Bruins.
“I coach extremely hard, and I expect them to play hard,” said Harnly, who has been coaching for 18 years in Camden.
Hours of practice in the gym on a daily basis culminate each game day when Harnly coaches his players from the sidelines to victory.
“I want to inspire kids to be good,” said Harnly.
Harnly, who is also a physical education teacher at the school, said the best part of coaching at a high school is seeing a student mature and become a “better person and a better player.”
“I love seeing the kids improve each day,” said Harnly.
Harnly was six years old when he first stepped onto the court to play in a basketball game at the Boys Club. His competitive passion for the sport never ceased. As a student at Camden County High School, he played guard position on the basketball team.
Harnly attended undergraduate and graduate school at East Carolina University where he gained valuable experience working with the mens basketball team. During his college career, he spent summers working at basketball camps for children, located at various colleges around the state.
It was at one of these basketball camps where he received the best advice from a coach that he still imparts today: “Treat your players as if they were all your sons, no better no worse.”
“I have a lot of former players who are coaches, and I tell them the same thing,” said Harnly about the wise words he heard two decades ago.
Harnly still plays on the court with his players, staying fit by lifting weights and running.
“I really believe in taking care of yourself,” said Harnly. “I wouldn’t ask a kid to do something I can’t do, with the exception of dunking a ball.”
Harnly said he owes his success on the court to the strong support of his wife, Melissa, and his twins, Bladen and Drew.
“Basketball is a sport where you can’t hide,” explained Harnlyl. He says that effort, focus and movement are constantly required.
As they leave the locker room, every player and coach touches a sign with the phrase, “All it takes is all you’ve got.”
Harnly continues to strive for excellence giving 100 percent to a game he loves.