Hart takes over Tigers boys basketball

A familiar face in the halls at Idaho Falls High School will be taking over the school’s boys basketball program.

Howard Hart, who teaches history and government at his alma mater, has also served many coaching roles for the Tigers. He was an assistant boys basketball coach from 2011 to 2013, the freshman boys basketball head coach from 2009 to 2011 and the head girls basketball coach from 2000 to 2002. He was the head boys basketball coach at Bonneville High School from 1992 to 1997.

Now he’ll try to turn around a program that has struggled recently. The Tigers went 0-22 two years ago and 4-18 last year under interim coach John Tucker. Tucker was a finalist for the permanent job at I.F., but instead took the head coaching job at Bonneville. District 91 had to start a new search when another finalist turned down the job.

That’s when Hart, who didn’t initially apply for the job, decided to throw his hat into the ring. He was sparked by encouragement from his wife (“she told me, ‘you’re getting old, you might not get another chance,’”) and a letter he received the Thursday before Memorial Day weekend from the parent of a player he coached at Bonneville.

“That got me thinking that maybe I can still make a difference,” Hart said. “So I thought about it over Memorial Day weekend and decided to apply.”

Hart hopes to spark excitement about basketball at the elementary and middle school levels. He also hopes being on staff at the high school will be an advantage.

“The No. 1 element of any program at the high school level is the academic part of it,” he said. “It’s a big advantage if there’s someone on staff. They know what’s going on in the culture of the school, what’s going on with (the players) outside of the two hours you see them in practice.”

Hart said it’s too late to put together youth camps, but he does expect to work with the high school players during the summer season. He also has to fill out his coaching staff.

“We’ll get started with the high school kids, getting to know each other,” he said. “I’m hoping being around in the classroom and knowing me from a coaching standpoint will be a positive. They’ll see the passion I have for the things that I do, whether it’s in the classroom or the gym.”