Rams’ unprecedented success: A coach and wife’s story

Published 5:40 pm Friday, March 3, 2023

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Gymnasiums around the state have filled to the brim with energetic Rams fans all season long as Valley made history for their coach and team.

Jemeka Harper, known by some as Mrs. Coach Harper, has stood on the sidelines of the team, not just this season, but for every season. 

Head Coach Marshon Harper has been coaching basketball for Valley High School for 24 years, and Jemeka has been by his side for every one of those.

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“I’ve been with him through the highs and the lows, but this season has definitely been the highest of the highs,” Jemeka Harper said. “And just seeing what he’s gone through each season, especially those down seasons, just to see the success that he’s having this year, it’s really unexplainable.”

Over the years, Marshon has always made her feel like a part of the team. Sometimes, it’s as simple as sharing his thoughts with her while he’s studying a game on film.

“Even though my opinion probably won’t make a difference, because I don’t have a clue as far as that part of basketball, but just the thought that he includes me,” Jemeka said.

As an alumni, the Rams have always been important to Marshon, but this season, he and his team have advanced further than ever before. Saturday’s championship game will decide everything.

“The game that’s coming up on Saturday is by far the biggest game of his entire career,” Jemeka said.

During the current, miraculous season, the community support has overwhelmed Jemeka at times. But over the years, it hasn’t always been easy. Despite remaining undefeated by 32-0, there are always those who will have their doubts.

“Sometimes as the coach’s wife, that’s frustrating to hear,” Jemeka said. “Or to see the comments on Facebook, that’s frustrating to me.”

Still, for every naysayer, there have been droves of supporters. Jemeka has had a front row seat to the effect this season has had on the community. After an underdog story like this, she thinks the team will be more popular than ever.

“What’s going on this season, I know it’s probably gonna make more of the kids at Valley High want to try out for the basketball team, to be a part of the program and just to keep their fan base going,” she said. “It’s going to be amazing.”

She also knows that the team feeds off the energy in the stands.

“I’m not just talking about at home at Valley High,” Jemeka said. “When we went on the road, most times we had more fans than the home team.”

As natural self-motivators, Jemeka and Marshon are determined to see the season end on another high. She knows what a championship win this year would mean to the community.

“To win the championship, we would just stamp our name in history,” Jemeka Harper said. “We’ve already made history with the records that we have and different things that’s going on, but to win a state championship, which has never been done at Valley, would just seal the deal for this season and for Marshon.”

This season is doubly special for Jemeka. She’s not just cheering her husband on but also her son, Jay. 

“For him to go through this with our son is a once in a lifetime opportunity for the both of them,” Jemeka said.

Jemeka has watched Jay and his teammates grow into championship players for years, some of them since fourth and fifth grade. They liked to promise MArshon that they would win a ring for him one day.

“This group of boys, they want it,” Jemeka said. “They want it for Valley High … So that once the Valley High name is no longer, if consolidation happens, then this will be something that everybody will always remember — Valley High did win a state championship.”