116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
NORTH LIBERTY — Magic is in the work.
James Harris has applied that philosophy as the head football coach at Washington, Iowa. One he subscribes to in his daily life.
'You have to be willing to show up every day and consistently put in the work necessary if you want to be successful,' Harris said. 'It doesn't just happen all of a sudden. It happens through cumulative effort and consistent buy-in.'
He will continue that approach as the new Iowa City Liberty football coach. School officials announced Monday that Harris will become the second head football coach in school history, replacing Jeff Gordon, who stepped down after last season. Gordon coached freshmen and sophomores before taking over the varsity program for its first season in 2018.
Harris said it was a tough decision but one he couldn't pass.
'It's bittersweet for me to leave Washington, which is where I graduated from, and I got to coach great young people and coach with great coaches,' said Harris, who met with his Washington players Monday and expects to meet virtually with Lightning athletes midweek. 'It's with a heavy heart that I do this, but I do it because I believe the Iowa City Liberty job is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.'
Harris coached the Demons for three seasons, posting a 21-7 overall record. He led the Demons to Class 3A playoff berths in 2019 and 2020, including an unbeaten regular season and an 8-1 overall mark last fall.
Harris was selected as a coach for the 2021 Shrine Bowl and is a nationally certified strength and conditioning specialist.
'The expectation we have is that he's going to come in and teach our kids how to play football and teach our kids the other things that come with football that translate into lifelong lessons,' Liberty Athletics Director Mike Morrison said. 'The fact that he's a football coach and a strength coach are just outside pieces. More importantly, he's also an amazing person and a great fit for us. We were looking for someone who could bring an impact to our building. We think he's the guy that can do that.'
Morrison recognized some of the intangibles that made Harris a strong choice as a coach and educator.
'I think his energy is really high,' Morrison said. 'He's passionate about football. He's passionate about teaching. He's going to be a good fit in our building. All those things are important pieces. He fits what we're looking for.'
Liberty was 2-3 last season in its first as a 4A school. The Lightning were 7-3 in 2019, earning the school's first playoff berth in 3A. The school opened in 2017 and has plenty of resources, including newer up-to-date facilities. Harris is ready for the challenge.
'Getting to work in a new school with incredible facilities and great young kids is going to be exciting,' Harris said. 'It's going to be a challenge to see where I am as a coach because I feel I have to elevate my level to compete in 4A, and before long Liberty is going to be a 5A school.
'It excites me to coach at that high level. It's going to take a tremendous amount of work, buy-in and sweat equity for us to be successful.'
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