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New coach creates history at Mourning High School

Akilah Laster | 8/8/2013, 3:49 p.m.
Mourning basketbball team huddle. Photo by Akilah Laster

Rarely do most individuals have a chance to create history. For Dennis Alexander, getting the head basketball coach position at Alonzo and Tracy Mourning High School provides him with that opportunity. Both the program and the school were established in 2009.

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Mourning basketbball team huddle.

“We’re writing history with just about everything we do,” Alexander said. “With that people might think there’s no pressure but, who wants to go down as someone who didn’t ever matter?” Alexander, a Miami native and North Miami Senior High School alumnus (Class of 1996), spent the last eight seasons as head junior varsity coach and assistant varsity coach at Carol City Senior High School under the tutelage of longtime head coach, Barry Robinson.

“Hard work and commitment [is] what coach brings to the table as well as great knowledge of the game,” Robinson said. “I’m going to miss having him on the sidelines with me in the heat of the battle. [But] I know he’s going to be successful.”Alexander credits his experience at Carol City alongside Robinson, his best friend, for preparing him for the opportunity at Mourning. He also is one of the reasons that Carol City developed into the competitive program that it is today. A former math teacher at Carol City, Alexander earned his bachelor’s degree in engineering from Tuskegee University. “I grew up wanting to be a coach,” Alexander said. “I learned more sitting on the bench and watching my coach and how he ran practice than I ever did playing.” He had an opportunity to go back into engineering, but chose to become a teacher at Carol City Senior. Alexander, now has his work cut out for him in rebuilding or actually laying a foundation for an extremely young, but struggling program. Alonzo Mourning High only won two games last season (2-16) under former head coach Curt Bridges. “A coach’s coach will take anybody, try to win with that group, try to teach them the game, take the lumps, and takes a real pleasure out of seeing guys improve and try to get better every day,” Alexander said, quoting Hubie Brown, one of his coaching idols. “I do not like to shy away from challenges.” Alexander, who admits he did have some concerns about players at Mourning being as dedicated as his former players, said that he was pleasantly surprised. Alexander will look to guards Roojerry Dangerville and Leo Rodriguez for leadership, but in developing his programs culture he believes that any of his players can emerge as a leader if he does what he needs to do as a coach. “The good thing about your first year is you’re not rewarding anybody for anything they did before,” Alexander said. “You don’t have to make a leader, they develop.” Scheduled to play Carol City in his first season, a team that made it to the regional quarterfinals after going 19-7 last season, his return will be heartfelt. Asked what he would say to Robinson if he pulled an upset against his former team, his response was humble and simple.

“You taught me well,” Alexander said.