After 36 years of providing leadership, if Bobby Sharp never coaches again, he’s assured of going out on top.
The 60-year-old, who led the East High girls basketball team to the CIF Division V Southern Regional championship this season, has decided to step down as Blades coach after four years with the team.
“This is a personal decision that is directly related to my family,” said Sharp, who will continue to teach special education at the school. “I’m trying to do the best that I can to improve my family’s situation. So I’d like to look at opportunities to use some of my advanced degrees and administrative credentials, and those kinds of situations to benefit my family.
“I just feel like I need to put my family first and do what I can to better my family’s situation.”
Sharp first experienced success when he was an assistant at Foothill for eight seasons, highlighted by the Trojans’ state boys championship in 1988. After stepping away from coaching, he returned to help guide the Ridgeview boys team to a Central Section title during his seven-year tenure there.
He took over a Blades program that was just 1-22 the previous season, and slowly built the team into a champion. East won six games during his inaugural season, improving its record each year before culminating in a 23-9 season last year.
“I love East High, and East High will always be a part of my life,” said Sharp, who has been married to his wife, Jeanine, for 25 years. “I’m grateful and blessed to be part of the tradition of East High basketball. I, of course, love my kids very much, and we will always be connected with this last season and the things that they accomplished. While it’s difficult, it’s hard, but at the same time it’s something I need to do for my family.”
For years, that family has included hundreds of players and coaches, something Sharp is extremely appreciative of.
“When I reflect back, I think the most important thing is the players,” Sharp said. “Basketball is such a great tool to teach life lessons. And the most important thing for me is, through every situation that I've been in, is did we change the players lives? And did what we were supposed to do to help them become successful people.
“Because there's a very low percentage of kids that get to play in college. We want kids to have opportunities, but the reality of the situation is what did they learn from playing basketball in high school? What do they take with them to become a better person? And that’s what it’s all about. If you can touch the life of a student-athlete and you can sew into their spirit that they can accomplish anything.”
Sharp added that his relationship with long-time assistant coach Jason Calhoun has been one of the most important he's formed, particular over the past four years at East.
“I owe him so much,” Sharp said. “This hasn’t been completely about me. He’s been with me through getting blown out by 30, and he always believed and said, ‘Coach, we’re going to do it.’ And he’s turned into family for me. We’re family.”
As Sharp begins to focus on new opportunities with his career and family, he cannot help but reflect on his primary philosophy he tried to share with his players.
“I challenged my kids to want more and to always want to be great,” Sharp said. “Hopefully through the situations with everything we go through in sports, it builds those character traits and loads them up so they can be successful.”