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Thomas Jefferson hires Shar as girls basketball coach

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Shar timeline

Phil Shar had an interesting four years leading up to his hiring by the West Jefferson Hills School District on Tuesday as Thomas Jefferson's third girls basketball coach in a year.

June 2009 — Had his position opened after 19 seasons for negative comments made to The Daily News about then Superintendent Patrick Risha. The school board voted 5-4 to open the position.

May 2010 — Reinstated by the newly elected West Mifflin School Board. Shar ran a write-in campaign for school board and won, but it did not vote on his hiring.

May 2010 — Removed as West Mifflin coach after the teachers union filed a grievance contending that it violated the state School Code to have a school director employed by the district.

June 2010 — The newly appointed school board rehired Shar, who led the Titans to a 17-7 record and a first-round playoff win.

March 2011 — Shar was removed as West Mifflin coach because of an arbitrators ruling of the May 2010 violation of the state School Code.

May 2013 — Named girls basketball coach at Thomas Jefferson.

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Tuesday, May 28, 2013, 10:51 p.m.

For former West Mifflin girls basketball coach Phil Shar, there was nothing profound with his decision to get back into coaching.

There was no agenda of trying to show up the school that ousted him three times in a matter of 21 months — including twice in a span of 10 days — or wanting two wins to reach the elusive 400-win mark.

For Shar, the reasoning was simple.

“I don't think it is a secret that I really enjoy coaching,” Shar said. “You can say these past couple years that I was kind of bored. Actually, I was a lot bored.”

Shar's schedule just got busy.

Shar was hired by neighboring rival Thomas Jefferson at Tuesday's West Jefferson Hills school board meeting by a 9-0 vote.

Shar, who has a 398-160 record in 20 years, takes over for interim coach Dom DiMattia, who led the Jaguars to a 9-13 record a year ago.

Shar is excited to be back on the bench.

“Going to the gym is one of my favorite pastimes,” said Shar, a retired West Mifflin math teacher and current WMASD school board member. “People enjoy golfing, I enjoy going to the gym. When I got fired and had to sit, I then realized how much I missed coaching and how much I wanted to coach again.”

Shar endured a whirlwind 21-month span from June 2009 to March 2011 that saw him get fired three times and rehired twice.

Shar was first removed at West Mifflin in 2009, only months after his 19th season. He had led the Titans to a 20-8 record and a trip to the WPIAL Class AAA title game for the fifth time.

After a year off, he returned to West Mifflin and guided them to a 17-7 record and a first-round playoff win before being removed again — this time for good.

Shar isn't interested in rehashing the past.

“That's something I don't even want to talk about anymore,” Shar said. “I am happy to be back coaching, and I am really excited about getting back into it.”

Shar had been interested in getting back into coaching for a while, but the job that interested him had to meet his criteria.

“It needed to be within a 30-minute drive and TJ is a 10-minute drive for me, and I wanted to coach Triple-A or Quad-A,” Shar said. “TJ fits everything that I need.”

Now, Shar has to find a way bring his winning ways to Thomas Jefferson.

The Jaguars won back-to-back section titles in 2009-10 but have fallen on hard times, winning only 12 of 44 games over the past two seasons. Shar had only one losing season in his 20 years at West Mifflin.

“All I can tell you is at TJ, we are going to work hard,” said Shar, who has been running TJ's summer league team the past couple of weeks. “That's the same formula I used at West Mifflin: work hard and get better. The girls have been great over there. Our intangibles — and I am a big intangible guy — are off the chart.”

Shar will inherit most of last year's 9-13 team that missed the playoffs, including rising senior guard Alexis Yanief, a two-time Fabulous 15 member.

Yanief, a three-year letterman, led the Jags in scoring, assists, steals and blocks last year. TJ returns its entire roster except for two graduating seniors.

“These girls show up, they work hard, they smile, they do everything that I ask of them and the intensity has been great,” Shar said. “I am really pleased.”

Mark Kaboly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at or via Twitter @MarkKaboly_Trib.

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