Two Malibu High head coaches resigned from their positions at the beginning of the month.
Richard Harris left his position as the boys basketball coach on Nov. 6 to take a job on the Los Angeles Lakers’ community relations staff. Terry Shorten stepped down from the football coach post the next day for personal reasons. Harris was set to begin his fifth season coaching at the school, while Shorten just completed his fourth season last month.
Harris bowed out as the hoops coach on the eve of the squad’s 2018-19 season. He said being hired as a community relations associate with the Lakers happened within a three-day period. Harris interviewed for the job, was told he received the position, then he told Malibu High School athletic director Chris Neier and the basketball team he was leaving. Harris said the Sharks were supportive of his decision.
“They showed me a lot of love,” he said. “They clapped for me. It was an emotional time for me because I was completely dedicated to the community. To tell them I’m leaving was not easy. It was a bittersweet moment.”
Both decisions were made just a week before the Woolsey Fire swept through Malibu.
The basketball coach of 13 years said coaching the Sharks was a great experience.
“It was one of the best environments I have worked in,” said Harris, hired as Malibu’s coach in 2014. “I love the community and the way people treated me. The kids worked hard ... I was so impressed with the effort and energy they gave.”
Harris’ brother, David, a Sharks’ assistant coach in previous seasons, was not going to return to Malibu’s bench this season. He is now the head basketball coach at New Covenant Academy in Koreatown.
Luke Davis, a former college football player and basketball coach in Santa Monica, was named as Malibu’s new boys basketball coach the day after Harris dribbled away from the role. Malibu’s former coach said he expects his successor to do well.
“He has good energy,” Harris said of Davis. “He has a passion for basketball.”
Harris coached Malibu to a CIF playoff berth in each of his four seasons. He also started a traveling basketball team composed of Malibu youth that competed during the offseason.
Shorten, hired as the Sharks football coach in March 2015, coached the gridiron group to a 6-5 record this season. The 11-game campaign ended on Oct. 26, but before that, the Sharks recorded their most wins in several years.
Shorten said Malibu had some adversity this season due to the low number of players on the roster and playing in a new league, but the team of 20-something players were able to overcome. He is proud of the season.
“We had a great year,” he said.
The 11-season head football coach said he loved coaching the Sharks.
“I was really proud of all the kids that were in the program throughout the four years,” Shorten said. “We had some great student-athletes come through the program and I am proud of every single one of them.”
The former coach noted how he and his coaches enjoyed the view of the sunset setting over the Pacific Ocean, viewable from the high school’s football field, right before kickoff at home games.
“Just playing hometown football was fun,” he said. “Watching the Sharks compete every week was always a thrill for me.”
Shorten led Malibu to a 6-4 record in 2017. The squad had a record of 2-8 in 2016 and 3-7 the year before.
Shorten hadn’t yet spoken with Malibu’s football players about his decision to leave when interviewed but said he would soon.
For the next Malibu football coach to be successful, Shorten believes youth football must have more of a presence in the city in order to teach players how to play the game the correct way before they join the Sharks program.
It’s not known yet what members of Shorten’s coaching staff will return for the 2019 season.
“I’m very proud of what we have done at Malibu,” Shorten said.
He is unsure if he will step on the sidelines again.
“I really enjoy being a head coach, and I love the interaction with the families and the players,” he said. “The whole dynamics of running a program, I really enjoy. As far as coaching again, I don’t have any plans.”
When Harris began coaching basketball, he wanted to be the best coach possible.
“I think I was a pretty good coach; I don’t think I was great,” he said. “I got a lot to learn. If the opportunity presents itself, and I get a chance ... I still got work to do. I don’t think I’m a complete coach yet.”