Like many proud alums, Barry Whittington has always kept tabs on his alma mater.

Now the 2003 East Ascension High School graduate will be one of the Spartans coaches whom other alumni will be checking up on.

The 29-year-old Whittington confirmed that he was hired as East Ascension’s boys basketball coach Friday. He started his EAHS duties by coaching the Spartans in a summer league game Monday afternoon at Woodlawn High.

“I played for four years at East Ascension, so when it came open, there was no question I was interested,” he said. “I’ve always followed all the teams; it’s part of who I am. My wife and I had a little girl last year, and now I’ll be able to work a mile away from her during the day. And I live a quarter-mile from the school.”

Whittington returns to EAHS after spending six years at Donaldsonville. He started out coaching the middle school teams and spent the past two seasons as the Class 3A Tigers boys basketball coach. He also was the head girls coach at DHS for a year.

The 2013-14 season was a milestone year for Donaldsonville and Whittington. The Tigers (22-11) garnered a No. 8 playoff seed in Class 3A and advanced to the semifinals. It was DHS’ first trip to the Louisiana High School Athletic Association’s Top 28 tourney since 2006.

“The seniors on that team were the seventh- and eighth-graders I coached when I first came to Donaldsonville, so leaving is tough,” he said. “But there’s no question that this is the best thing for my family.”

Whittington takes over for Kenny Almond, who left EAHS earlier this month to become head boys coach at Zachary. Almond coached the Spartans to the Class 5A semifinals in 2012-13 and the quarterfinals in 2013-14. EAHS lost to eventual state champion Natchitoches Central in the in the quarterfinals.

Though most skeptics believe Whittington faces a rebuilding job, he has other ideas.

“I’ll change up some of the defenses because I like to mix more zone and man than Coach Almond did,” he said. “We haven’t had a practice yet, but I did get a chance to sit back and watch (the players Monday in summer league). I think we can surprise some people.”