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Head basketball coach Sterling Carter coaches his athletes during a 2029 practice.

After two years leading the boys basketball program at Yelm High School, Head Coach Sterling Carter announced Thursday, March 7, he will be leaving the program.

“I would like to say thank you to all those who made my time in Yelm great the past two years, from the players to the staff and families,” Carter wrote on Twitter.

Calling the departure bittersweet, Carter said he hopes to leave the program with a strong enough foundation to find success down the road.

The Purdue University graduate arrived at Yelm’s program in June 2018 and quickly began work to turn a “free-for-all” team into an organized squad.

Success didn’t come right away.

The season before Carter came onboard, the Tornados went winless under previous coach Scott Delony. Carter’s first year would prove similar as the Tornados went 1-19 his first season.

Things slowly turned in the offseason with a run of summer wins.

The Tornados looked promising coming into the 2019-2020 season. The team ultimately went 8-12 overall and 4-10 in the 3A South Sound Conference.

Midseason, Yelm even earned a major upset against reigning SSC champs Gig Harbor with a 75-57 win against the Tides.

Carter said he plans on returning home. He recently accepted a coaching position with 3A Metro league’s Cleveland Eagles, which went 3-16 overall last season.

In a statement on Friday, Yelm Athletic Director Rob Hill said he appreciated Sterling’s efforts and program changes, and wished him the best of luck in his future.

“His impact and contributions were not limited to basketball throughout this time,” Hill wrote. “He and his staff implemented and spent countless hours in a fall study table to ensure his players were academically ready when the winter season rolled around. His work ethic and character have made him a coach that will be hard to replace.”

Hill added that Carter brought the Tornados one win away from a run at the West Central District Tournament during his last season.

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