‘Difficult decisions’ - Nate Alexander leaves Osceola High basketball

  • Nate Alexander, back row, far right, won two state championships, including the photo above in 2017. PHOTO/SPECSPORTSFL
    Nate Alexander, back row, far right, won two state championships, including the photo above in 2017. PHOTO/SPECSPORTSFL

One of the most successful coaching runs in Florida state high school basketball history is over.

Nate Alexander, who won two state championships and made it to a third final at Osceola High School, has decided to call it quits after 13 years at the school – including the last seven as the head coach.

“This was one of the more difficult decisions I have ever made and there was no one factor that led to this move,” Alexander said. “The uncertainty of the COVID-19 virus, along with the anticipated arrival of my second child, weighed heavily on my decision. I also had a new career opportunity that I wanted to try. I certainly will miss the kids and the teaching, as well as the incredible coaching family at Osceola.”

“Nate sort of hinted around that he was thinking about this, so it wasn’t a total shock when he came to me,” Osceola Athletic Director Jim Bird said. “When all factors were considered, including the birth of a second child and concerns about COVID-19, I think it may have moved his timetable up. He was an incredibly successful coach and teacher, whose record may never be matched. We can’t thank him enough for what he did for Osceola High School and our basketball program.”

Alexander, a multi-sport athlete from Ohio, attended a Florida Teachers Job Fair shortly after graduating from college. Although he was offered several opportunities, he said something just felt “right” about Osceola High School.

Upon his arrival prior to the 2007-08 school year, Alexander immediately sought out Head Football Coach Jeff Rolston to inquire about a coaching position.

“I was a quarterback and safety in high school and always thought I would be a football coach,” Alexander recalled. “Coach Rolston told me his staff was already set and no openings were available.”

As luck would have it, an opening did exist in basketball and Alexander spent the next several years on the staff. When Steve Mason left after the 2012- 13 season, Alexander was elevated to head coach. He made an immediate impact, leading the team to a 19-8 record and a berth in the state playoffs in his first season.

The following year, Alexander guided the Kowboys to a 21-5 record and made it all the way to the state finals where they dropped a 72-60 decision to Ely High School. Two years later, Alexander would lead the Kowboys to the state championship, capping a 30-2 season off with a 59-47 win over Wekiva.

In the 2018-19 season, the Kowboys lost star Omar Payne, who transferred to national powerhouse Monteverde Academy, but still managed to reach the top of the mountain, this time defeating Wellington in the state finals, 50-43.

But Alexander’s best season may have been his last one.

Losing nine of his top 10 players to graduation from the state championship team, Osceola started the season with a 20-point blowout loss to Evans and many questioned whether this would be the season the Kowboys would fall back to pack.

But Osceola would split a pair of games with state powers Windermere and Windermere Prep and then go on to win the prestigious City Beautiful Holiday Tournament. The season would culminate with another trip to the state playoffs and a 19-8 record.

“Without question that was his best coaching job,” Bird added. “Although he lost most of his starting lineup and all his key reserves, he got that team to buy in, play hard and get the state playoffs again.”

For his seven-year head coaching career at Osceola, Alexander finishes with a record of 155-46, a .771 winning percentage, three final four state championship appearances, two titles and seven trips to the playoffs.

As for the future, Alexander says he recently obtained his state real estate license and will try his hand at both sales and real estate investing.

He says he will miss coaching and takes little personal credit for Osceola’s success over the past seven years.

“What little I contributed was due to what I learned from the other great coaches at the school. Coach Nick (football coach Doug Nichols), Coach Bird (wrestling coach and AD Jim Bird) and Coach Birchler (baseball coach Scott Birchler) are all tremendous coaches that taught me so much about the right way to do things,” Alexander said. “The majority of the credit though belongs to the kids. We always had a lot of athletic talent but it was also their will and desire to be winners that made the difference.”

Although he is starting a new career, Alexander is not shutting the door on a possible return to coaching in the future.

“First, I’m not going anywhere. I will be around to support the program as a fan. Secondly, who knows what the future will hold? I love teaching and I love coaching, and perhaps I could find my way back to it someday. I learned a long time ago to never say never.”

Bird noted that Steve Perez, a former assistant coach under Alexander who was head coach at Liberty High School last season, would replace Alexander.