New direction

Mountain Pointe head coach Brian Fleming had a good run with the Pride in his five years before resigning this week.

By Darryl Webb, AFN

The Fleming family could fill out a starting five.

The unquestioned team leader is Leah, the mother, as she has had the burden of doing most of the heavy work, but Brian is ready to chip in a little more instead of coming off the bench as the Mountain Pointe boys basketball coach announced his resignation on Wednesday.

“The kids need me at home,” Fleming said. “I’ve been away for so long and it is the right time.”

He had a meeting with his players to explain the decision and sent out an email to parents Wednesday afternoon. Fleming has been at Mountain Pointe the last five years, and a head coach for 17 years total.

It’s a year longer than he has been married to Leah and now that their three daughters — 12-year-old Brianna and twins, Jolynn and Christina, 11 — are getting closer to attending high school and middle school, respectively, Fleming has been feeling the pull toward home.

“Leah has been doing everything while I coached, and now it’s time I start helping out a little more,” he said. “It’s something I am looking forward to.”

Fleming, 42, will also be going back school to attain his education leadership degree and hopes to enter into an administrative role in the near future.

He leaves the gym with a career record of 295-170, including 74-64 with the Pride (60-26 over the last three years and was named region coach of the year after the 2010-11 season).

“I definitely feel like I am leaving the program in a good position,” said Fleming, whose first year in 2007-08 netted three wins before getting back-to-back 22-win campaigns in 2009-10 and 2010-11. “The cupboard isn’t bare either. (Principal) Bruce (Kipper) is going to go out and find the best coach he can. I hope they find someone who can take the program to a higher level than I did. I really do.”

Mountain Pointe athletic director Ian Moses said the search for a new coach will start immediately.

“We are going to find the best teacher and coach we can,” Moses said. “Brian has left behind a high standard, and we expect to remain there at the very least.”

The Pride finished this past season 15-13 while playing one of the state’s toughest schedules with one of Division I’s youngest teams.

The new coach will inherit a solid core of players in junior Khari Holloway, sophomore Austin Witherill, and sophomore Jalen Brown, all guards with two years of varsity experience.

Moses said Fleming, whose teams made the final eight in nine of his 17 seasons, had a lot more of an impact than just wins and losses.

“Brian came in and did exactly what was expected and needed to be done,” Moses said. “You play to win and we keep records for a reason, but his impact on a daily basis with the kids on the basketball court is what we will miss the most.”

Fleming, who also coached at Tempe (six years) and McClintock (six years), said the decision was easier than expected.

“It’s been a good run and I enjoyed every minute of it,” he said. “I am ready for a new chapter that focuses on the kids, family, and my wife. It’s been a longtime coming.”

Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or jskoda@ahwatukee.com. Follow him on Twitter @JSkodaAFN.

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