Lehigh men’s basketball associate coach Harry Morra’s love of basketball started when he was around 10 years old playing basketball in his foster family’s backyard court.
Morra said basketball became his form of therapy in acclimating into a new home, family and life.
“I fell in love with basketball because of what it provided for me in a very difficult point in my life,” Morra said. “It’s been rewarding me ever since.”
Having played all his life, Morra got to step foot on many different courts — playing Division III at DeSales for four years, coming to Lehigh for his master’s degree and professionally playing in Ireland.
But some of his most important and rewarding lessons came off the hardwood.
Morra said the opportunity to play in Ireland humbled him because he got to travel throughout different parts of the world.
He worked for nonprofits in Ireland, South Africa and Southeast Asia, such as with PeacePlayers International, which unites and educates students through basketball.
“One of the main things I learned was that I didn’t have it that bad even though I felt like I was dealt a very difficult hand when I was a child,” Morra said. “But then I saw other parts of the world, how people lived, and it was humbling for me because they lived in a lot more difficult situations.”
After his formal education and playing days were over, he wanted to continue his involvement in the game. After one year as a video coordinator for Lehigh basketball during the 2011-12 season, Morra went back to DeSales to serve as an assistant coach for the next three seasons — then back to the South Side once more.
He said the switch from coaching at DeSales to coaching at Lehigh was a smooth transition because of how much he learned at DeSales.
“I’ve been trying to absorb my whole career as much as I could, and I had recruiting success, scouting success and operations success when I got to Lehigh because (of) what I learned at DeSales,” Morra said. “There was no job too big or too small.”
When Lehigh was looking to hire an assistant coach in 2011, head coach Brent Reed cited the job Morra did as video coordinator.
Reed said Morra was active, working hard to prepare the team. Morra’s coaching philosophy goes back to his roots as a player, he said, which has a lot to do with the physical aspect of playing the sport.
“I think one of the biggest disconnects that coaches have as they get older is that they forget what it’s like to just play, run, get hit, be injured, be sick, have a final exam the next day and something going on in your personal life,” Morra said. “I never want to forget that.”
He continues to play basketball in organized leagues, pickup games with his friends including Lehigh’s women’s basketball head coach Addie Micir.
On the sideline, junior player Keith Higgins Jr. said Morra’s positive energy radiates from the bench.
“He’s been a great figure to our program. He’s one of the guys who you know is genuine and will always help you out,” Higgins said. “He’s a coach with a lot of energy and that’s something we need in our program.”