Harlow steps down as Litchfield High hoop coach
Jason Harlow, Litchfield High's boys basketball coach for nine years, is shown with last year's seniors, from left, Nick Hula, Quinlan McCarthy, Kyle Murphy and Drew Gauvain. Harlow has stepped down to join the Trinity College men's basketball coaching staff. John McKenna photo
By John McKenna
BZ sports reporter
Litchfield High boys basketball coach Jason Harlow has stepped down after nine seasons, ending one of the most successful coaching runs in school history.
Harlow has accepted a job as an assistant coach with the Trinity College's men's basketball team, the first step in his goal to be a head coach at the college level.
"It was one of the most difficult decisions I've had to make because I've become so attached to the Litchfield kids, but this opportunity came up and I decided it was now or never to try college coaching," Harlow, 43, said Tuesday.
Harlow was 135-69 at Litchfield and won three Berkshire League regular-season championships and two BL tournament championships. His teams were known for playing an all-out, aggressive style that often withered opponents.
"I could've been a lifer as a high school coach," Harlow said. "I loved coming to the gym every day for practice and seeing kids improve. The games were great, but I really enjoyed the practices."
Harlow played basketball at Western Connecticut State University and was recommended for the Trinity job by his coach there, Bob Campbell. At Trinity, he'll work under head coach James Cosgrove and will be involved in practice planning, game preparation and recruiting.
After notifying Litchfield Athletic Director Kyle Weaver of his decision to step down, Harlow met with his returning players to inform them of his decision. That wasn't easy.
"Telling the kids was harder than I imagined," he said. "I also made a point of telling all of our former players. I wanted them to hear it from me."
Litchfield had a losing season in Harlow's first year, 2003-04, but stunned the BL by winning the league the next year and advancing to the state tournament quarterfinals. That season began a sustained run of excellence for the Cowboys.
"We had some success that second year and it continued to grow," Harlow said. "One of the things we taught was that you can't control everything but you can control how hard you play. We didn't always have the most talent, but we made up for it by always playing hard."
Harlow, who had a good relationship with the parents of his players, also credited the assistant coaches he worked with over the nine seasons.
"I've been fortunate to have had some great assistants," he said.
Weaver said Harlow will be missed.
"I'm happy for him, but it's a big loss for us," Weaver said. "In my opinion, he was the best boys basketball coach in the Berkshire League, hands down. No one did it better than Jason."
A pool of candidates is already forming for the position, Weaver said. The plan is to have a new coach in place by mid-October.