After 15 years as a junior varsity coach and an assistant varsity coach, Rasul Chester is now a head varsity coach.
Chester was named head coach of the Stephenson High School boys’ basketball program May 11. He was previously JV coach and assistant varsity coach at Miller Grove High School. Chester said it feels great to have this opportunity.
“As Coach [Sharman] White said, we think it’s been a year overdue,” Chester said. “He continued to train me to always take over the program just in case he moves up or another opportunity opens up. At this time, it feels awesome. I give glory to God, who continues to put people around me to continue to train and to make sure I’m ready.”
White said he could not be more excited for Chester.
“He didn’t cheat the process of becoming a head coach,” White said. “He continued to develop, he continued to work, and he continued to do the things that were needed in order to make him successful at the JV level while also assisting with the varsity. It all paid off for him.”
A 1997 graduate of Cross Keys High School, Chester got his first taste of coaching while in college. He returned to Cross Keys during a winter break to host a defensive camp for the girls’ basketball team, which his sister played for out the time.
“That’s when I started,” Chester said. “When I got out of college in 2003 I volunteered to coach at Cross Keys.
Chester was named JV girls’ basketball coach and assistant coach for the varsity girls’ team. Chester said this was a humble beginning for his coaching career, as the team did not win a game.
“I started six players and they all were from different nationalities,” he said. “I was really coaching girls that never knew the game. That gave me the teaching part of [coaching]—teaching them fundamentals. Watching those girls grow from not being able to score a bucket, not able to dribble running with the ball to being able to compete in the whole game. We never shorted the girls.”
From 2004-2006, he was the head JV boys’ and assistant varsity boys’ coach at Cross Keys, helping to lead the team to the Sweet 16 of the state playoffs. With the boys team he said he learned how to coach different talent.
In 2006, he moved to Stone Mountain High School where he coached the JV boys’ squad and assisted with the varsity team. He helped lead the team to the Elite Eight of the state playoffs. Chester said he learned how to compete every night playing in a tougher region at Stone Mountain.
He began his tenure at Miller Grove High School in 2008 and was a part of the program’s championship run.
In 2011, he was appointed head JV coach, and led the team to back-to-back DeKalb County JV titles in 2014 and 2015. When he got to Miller Grove, Chester said he learned organization.
“[White] just put everything together,” he said. “I had the suit but Coach White and the program helped me tie the tie, put on a blazer and a jacket. He taught me organization—from organized practices to competing at high levels in practice, not just in the game. It wasn’t basketball anymore, it was basically a ministry because we were raising young boys and when they left us they were young men.”
Chester plans to use everything he learned as a coach to help build Stephenson into a winning program. After meeting with the players, Chester said they are eager to learn and move the program in a new direction.
“Stephenson has already been a successful program to the point of winning,” Chester said. “Good teams win games, but great programs win championships. The direction we’re going in is changing Stephenson High School from a winning program to a championship program. It’s championship or nothing.”
He said it is going to take hard work from everyone to build the championship-mentality.
“There is no substitution for hard work, and that’s what we’re going to do,” he said. “Also, bring everybody together. We have to be on one accord, that starts from the administration, the parents and the community.”
Miller Grove’s first regular season opponent is Stephenson, and both Chester and White are looking forward to the matchup.
“It’s going to be a blessing,” Chester said. “It’s like coming home—you go off to college and you come home. It’s just a game for the players, but for me and Coach White it’s just family. We’re going to compete. He always taught us to compete and win, so that’s what both teams are going to do.”
“It’s going to be emotional, it’s going to be competitive, but it will be great for him to come back to the place where he kind of made his mark as a coach,” White said. “I told him we’ll take it easy on him.”
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