With a new coaching staff and division change ahead, the men’s basketball team is eager and ready for the upcoming season, with Coach Paul Blair at the forefront.
After proving himself as an assistant varsity coach at Shadow Ridge last year, Blair is now a teacher and coach at Spring Valley High School.
“I feel like I wanted to turn the whole program around,“ said Blair of his decision to move to SV.”I wanted to challenge myself so we can become great again.”
Blair was chosen by Athletic Director William Hemberger and Athletic Administrator, Gregory Stack for his passion and commitment. Blair made a big impression on the other coaches and players alike.
“We chose him because his energy was contagious,” said Hemberger. “He fit the role as a great mentor for the boys. With his knowledge, passion, and energy, he will get them far.”
Last year, the team was in Division 1A with an overall record of 8-13. This year, now up a division, Blair along with assistant coaches RJ Powell and Charles Mcrae are determined to steer the program in a positive direction.
Players on the team agree that Blair’s passion and determination will be a driving force going forward into the season.
Elijah Turner, a member of Blair’s team, recalled a time when Blair told him about how he had to walk several miles to get to the school he went to in order to play basketball.
“I became a coach because I didn’t have the ability to make it to the NBA or become a professional athlete,” said Blair. “I took it out on the players to make them better in hopes they will make it themselves. Kind of live my dreams through them.”
The young men who make up the team say they have improved their work ethic and their sportsmanship to make their coach proud. The team runs drills and strives to achieve their greatest ability in order to prove to the school and themselves that they will succeed with Blair as their new coach.
“Coach Blair does receive the respect that he deserves because now that everyone sees us winning, they give us more recognition,” Paul Banks, another member of the team, said. “He really cares about us so of course the team also gives him a lot of respect too.”
Before coming to SV, Blair was in the Navy for 12 years and has coached at both Canyon Springs and Shadow Ridge High Schools. His role as a teacher, however is a new one.
“I became a teacher because I wanted to be part of a time when there was a 100 percent graduation rate,” Blair said. “Almost every teacher on campus has helped me adjust and it helps that my family supports me in knowing that I can make a difference in the community and a difference in SV.”
Looking forward, Blair hopes to see growth both on and off the court.
“If you bring high intensity, good character, and you play good defense in the classroom then you shouldn’t get anything but A’s and B’s,” Blair said.
In addition to coaching basketball, Blair is the advisor of the Black Student Union. The club fundraises and works to spread awareness about black student’s culture.
Samantha Hayes, Vice President of BSU, explained that she was appreciative of Blair’s dedication and commitment to the group.
“We try to make a family within the club so we can talk to each other about our own personal experiences,” told Hayes. She went on to describe Blair and said, “He is super laid back, really supportive, keeps it real with us, and a modern young teacher.”