When Marc Harris arrived at Nampa Christian in 1982, he immediately knew he had a lot of work ahead of him.
The baseball field, he said, was marked by a chicken wire fence. Telephone poles served as the backstop. There were no dugouts and no water flowing to the field
And the outfield? A canal just past the makeshift home run wall provided its own little hazard.
“I had a centerfielder once chase a fly ball, hit the fence and fall into the canal,” said Harris. “That was pretty cool, but we had a little snow fence out there, and he went right over that and into the canal.”
It took a while for Harris to build the Trojans into a state power, but over the past 36 years, he's done just that. Harris and the Trojans recently wrapped up their fourth straight state title and the 10th state title for the head coach.
They are the first team at the 2A level to win four titles in a row, surpassing the three titles in a row that Harris had led Nampa Christian to from 1996-98.
“He really is amazing,” said senior captain Tyler Black. “He has so much experience not just in baseball, but in life. He's taught me a lot in four years. Probably the biggest thing I've learned in four years is play the game right. That goes farther than baseball, that goes into life. And that's what high school sports is about.”
For his efforts both this season and over his entire 36-year career at Nampa Christain, Harris is the Idaho Press' Sports Stars Boys Coach of the Year.
“You win one, it's tough,” said Harris. “You win two, it's really tough. You win three, it's incredibly tough, and then to win four, it's never happened before.”
Harris knows just how hard it is to maintain success year after year after year. One unlucky bounce, one injury, one bad day can ruin everything.
Harris knows all too well, one team or even one dominant player having your number can end any run.
It's what happened the first time the Trojans won three in a row. As they looked for their fourth title in a row in 1999, that team was Homedale, which beat Nampa Christian four times behind starting pitcher Darren Uranga, including one time in the state game.
Nampa Christian came back and won the title in 2000.
“It could have been a five-pete, but it wasn't,” said Harris. “The Uranga kid was so good, so you tip your cap and say 'hey, you were better than us.'”
But Harris used the lessons from the 1999 season to keep his team focused this season, and the experience paid off. Complacency was not going to be a factor this season.
In fact the day before the state tournament, Harris said he chewed his team out because of a lackadaisical practice they had. Their effort that day, he told them, was not at the level needed to win a state title.
It was just the chewing the Trojans needed as Nampa Christian won three games in three days to claim its 10th title under Harris.
But knowing when he needs to get into his players and when he needs to step back is one of the things that has set Harris apart in his 36 years of coaching.
“Above all he's a great coach,” said senior Jack Castledine. “One of the things that sets him apart is the ability to coach you individually. He has a different way he talks to me and a different way he talks to everyone else. He's a serious coach and a fun coach, and he really knows how to coach the game. He teaches us how to be good men of God and that translates into how we play.”