ABERDEEN — Moving up the ladder.
That is the natural progression for a coach at any level of competition,to have success and move on.
For former Sho-Ban High School boys basketball coach Lester Stewart, that opportunity came a little sooner than expected.
After two successful seasons at Sho-Ban, Stewart has accepted the boys head basketball coaching position at Aberdeen High School.
"It is a blessing from god to be in this position Stewart said. "I have been privileged to be have a great opportunity before me and I am excited to take it."
Stewart is taking over for Cory Hollingsworth who left for a teaching and coaching job in The Dalles, Ore.
In his two seasons at Sho-Ban, Stewart led the Chiefs to back-to-back Rocky Mountain Conference titles and two 1AA DII state tournament appearances. Unfortunately Stewart was unable to bring a state title to Fort Hall.
"When I took the job at Sho-Ban two years ago a lot was made of the fact that I did not have any high school head coaching experience," Stewart said. "In two years I proved them all wrong and we made history. I am going to have to overcome the perception that I won at a small school, but that is a challenge I look forward to an accept."
Fans that attended a Sho-Ban game in the last two seasons got very familiar with Stewart's uptempo, defense first style. Oh, and the Chiefs were really good at shooting the three pointer.
Will the Tigers run the same system this year? Stewart was hesitant to tip his cap just yet.
'The advantage I have is no one knows what I am going to do," Stewart said. "A lot of people are going to think we are going to run the run and gun style we played at Sho-Ban. They will have to wait and see."
Stewart says the eyes of Aberdeen athletic director Cody Park found him because of his work with Trinity Hoops, a basketball academy he founded along with former ISU guard Akbar Abdul-Ahad.
Trinity Hoops trains kids all over eastern Idaho, but it was a couple of workouts in Aberdeen that opened the door.
"My work with Trinity Hoops planted a seed in Aberdeen I did not know was there," Stewart said. "I got the chance to work with a lot of kids from Aberdeen and get to know people from the area and that opened a lot eyes."
While the jump in levels of competition from 1A DII to the 2A ranks does not seem like a lot, it will definitely pose some challenges to Stewart, challenges he welcomes with open arms.
"It was hard to leave those guys at Sho-Ban we did a lot together," Stewart said. "But the road to success is not always easy, and this is a challenge I welcome. I had to prove myself at Sho-Ban and I will have to the same at Aberdeen."
At his first open gym Wednesday at Aberdeen High School, 17 players came out including some non-high school age players.
"I am excited to have this many kids her for an open gym," Stewart said. "We are going to have some good players and I am looking forward to working with them."