Harris named wrestling coach at Smyrna: Dover coach, AD replaces Kurt Howell

Aaron Harris

SMYRNA — Jobs like the Smyrna high wrestling head coaching job don’t open up that often.

Aaron Harris knew that. And Harris also knew what a career change would mean for him at this point in his life.

But this was the perfect storm.

Harris was officially named the new wrestling coach at Smyrna High at the Smyrna School District’s board meeting on Wednesday night. He was previously the coach and athletic director at Dover High for the last four years.

Harris will give up his athletic director job with the move to Smyrna, making his sole job in athletics next season coaching wrestling.
“If you’re going to do that, what better place to do that in?” Harris said of Smyrna.

Harris was also approved as a physical education teacher at Smyrna High for the next school year.

He replaces Kurt Howell, who retired after this past season after 13 years. Howell won four dual meet state titles at Smyrna and the Eagles were in the championship match each of the last seven years.

Harris comes to Smyrna after helping to turn around the Dover program.

The Senators made the Division I state dual meet tournament in 2017 for the first time since 1994. They reached the tournament again this season with a 12-4 overall record.

Harris achieved two other milestones at Dover in 2017. The Senators defeated rival Caesar Rodney High, Harris’ alma mater, for the first time since 1995 and also had an individual state champion for the first time since 2005.

Smyrna athletic director Bill Schultz said he’s excited to see what Harris can do with Smyrna’s strong feeder program.

“What he’s done with Dover’s program has been tremendous,” Schultz said. “Many of those kids at Dover are new to the sport. His knowledge-base is tremendous. Watching him advance our kids from our feeder program even more is going to be a lot of fun.”

Harris is a 1997 graduate from Caesar Rodney, where he was a state champion wrestler as a senior at 140 pounds. He was an All-American as a freshman at Lycoming College (Pa.) before injuries prematurely ended his college career.

He first got into coaching with a two-year stint as an assistant at Davidson College (N.C.) before moving to Florida as head wrestling coach and athletic director at Homestead High. He won three district titles in eight seasons at Homestead.

He also was a wrestling coach and athletic director at South Dade High in Florida before returning to Delaware when he took the Dover job in 2014.

Dover had already posted its opening for a new athletic director last week. The Capital School District began advertising the position on Wednesday and expects the new athletic director to start July 1.

Harris said moving on from Dover was not easy.

“Absolutely it was a hard decision,” Harris said. “You’re talking about a career-change. I’ve been an athletic director since I was 25 and I’m so connected with all the kids at Dover and everyone in the Capital School District. At the end of the day this was the best decision for me. I’m ready to focus on just wrestling.”

Reach staff writer Tim Mastro at tmastro@newszap.com

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