Basketball has made transition easier for Coyle newcomer Eric Harris
HOOP DREAMS - The Bluejackets have shown improvement, too, since Harris transferred in from Chicago
COYLE — The sky seems a lot darker at night to Eric Harris.
That's not meant to be a metaphor for some ominous situation in Harris' life. It's a literal statement about what Harris sees when the sun goes down.
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Until about 10 weeks ago, Harris had lived his entire life in Chicago, and attended Bogan High School, located on the city's south side, for 3½ years.
In December, he moved to Coyle with his father, who took a job at nearby Langston University.
The phrase “culture shock” doesn't even seem strong enough to describe the transition from Chicago, a city of nearly 3 million people, to Coyle, with a little more than 300.
But Harris just smiles and speaks anecdotally about the differences he's seen in moving from one of the country's largest cities to one of Oklahoma's smallest school systems.
“It surprised me that it gets so dark around here at night. You go to the city and it's all lights. I don't know how they drive their cars on the roads at nighttime,” he said with a laugh.
“Chicago is real loud and rowdy. Down here, it's quiet and laid-back. In Chicago, everything's fast-paced, but it's dangerous. Down here, everything slower, but it's safer.”
Harris saw the rough side of the big city growing up in Chicago. But the safety of rural Coyle, about 30 miles north of the Oklahoma City metro area, means a lot — especially to Harris' mother. Divorced from his father, she still lives in Chicago. Harris' father gave him the choice to stay in Chicago with his mother, or move to Coyle with him.
“Just being a basketball player, and not being in trouble, you still have to look over your shoulder, because you don't know whose out there,” Harris said. “Guys just take people's lives out there. Down here, I feel safer. When I told my mom I was moving here, she took it hard, but she said she knew I'd be safer instead of up there wandering the streets.”
According to Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association numbers, Coyle High School has an average daily attendance of about 72 students. Among OSSAA member schools, it ranks 398th out of 479. The Chicago Public Schools website lists Bogan's enrollment at 1,393.
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