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Harris matches wits with former foes

The former Parkrose standout is set to lead Barlow's volleyball team
by: John Klicker, Parkrose graduate LaToya Harris returns to the Mount Hood Conference as head volleyball coach at Barlow High School. She serves a ball during a middle school camp Thursday afternoon.

LaToya Harris is a proven winner on the volleyball court, and now she gets her chance to test her skills from the sideline after being named head coach at Barlow High School for the upcoming season.

The 1999 graduate of Parkrose High School, Harris put together on to a stellar college career at Washington State University where she was a three-time all-Pac-10 player for the Cougars. She helped Washington State reach the Elite Eight during her senior season.

'That was a great year,' Harris said. 'I remember senior night, we beat No. 1-ranked Stanford and I had like 30 kills. It was the best match I've ever played.'

She has spent the last two seasons coaching at San Leandro High School in the Bay Area and also has experience coaching various youth clubs. Harris was named first alternate to the U.S. Olympic team in 2005 and isn't shy about taking the court during practices.

'I love to get involved and to have fun,' Harris said. 'I'll get out and play with them.'

She will see plenty of familiar faces when the Bruins start their season in two weeks. Harris spent several summers playing for Gresham coach Lori Anderson and the Nike Northwest club.

'It will be weird going against her,' Harris said. 'I am growing my own coaching style, but I remember a lot about her energetic attitude. You need to have separation between being a coach and a friend, but my team is like a group of daughters. I'll be there for whatever they might need.'

Barlow has a rich volleyball history, winning four state titles and the mid-1990s and reaching the title match three more times from 2000 to 2002. But the Bruins have fallen short of the state tournament the last two seasons - something Harris hopes to remedy.

'When I was in high school it was all Gresham and Barlow when it came to volleyball,' Harris said. 'I want to get us back there. We have some girls that are willing to put a lot into it.'

A full list of head coaching changes at Gresham-area high schools is published in the Saturday, Aug. 19, issue of the Gresham Outlook.