Sims returns to coaching with hopes of improving illustrious 18-year career

By THOMAS P. WEAVER, HORIZON Editor

CELINA-When local schools director Donnie Cherry found out he would have a vacancy at the Clay County High School (CCHS) girls basketball coaching position for the upcoming season and began advertising the opening, he probably never imagined he would find an applicant with 18 years of coaching experience in the toughest district in the state, boasting a 66% career winning percentage with a record of 384-200, seven district championships, a half-dozen region championships, over a dozen sub-state appearances, one shy of 10 state tournament appearances, six final-four appearances, and four state runner-up finishes–but he did and the applicant was already on the payroll.

Legendary girls basketball coach Joe Sims will return to coaching with the tip-off of the 2010 season and since taking the job has already raised the team’s expectations in the eyes of the public before the girls have even taken the floor.

“I know people will have high expectations with what we accomplished in the past, but I have never been one to worry about other people’s thoughts,” Sims said in a HORIZON interview Monday morning when asked about the pressure his past successes could bring to his new coaching bid.  “I’m looking forward to working with these girls, and all I can do is work hard, do what I know how to do, and we’ll see what happens.”

Cherry said he was “glad he (Sims) made the decision” to return to coaching and explained he didn’t think they “could’ve found anyone more qualified” to fill the position.

“It’s impressive what he’s accomplished in his career,” Cherry said.  “You can’t argue with that, and we’re excited about him getting back into coaching this year.”

Sims will continue to serve as the CCHS athletics and in-school suspension director, but the “down-time” his coaching hiatus provided him will disappear quickly.

“I am already working on our summer camp schedule,” Sims said,  “Having time before school’s out will be a big help in preparing for the upcoming season.

“I’ve already met with the girls and am excited about getting started again.”

Sims will fill the vacancy left by Sharon Kimes, who coached the Lady Bulldogs the past two years.

Kimes said she made the decision to step down after last season “to have more time to be with her family and watch her daughter Kayla pursue her college playing career” after recently signing with Roane State (see more on Kimes’ signing in next week’s HORIZON.)

“I will miss it, but I wanted to be able to go to Kayla’s games and have more time at home,” Kimes told the HORIZON at her daughter’s signing Monday.  “I enjoyed every minute of it, but it is a lot of work and demands much of your time.

“I appreciate everybody’s support over the last two years, but I think 20 years of coaching at many different levels is enough for me.”

Kimes said she supported the decision to hire Sims and said she was behind the team 100 percent.

“These girls can play with anybody and we showed that this past year,” she said, “but we did come up short in some big ones when it counted.  They should have a great shot next year to redeem themselves.”

Sims said he agreed with Kimes’ assessment of the competition next year.

“Both Jackson County and Clarkrange have lost a pair of all-state players and that should help us have a chance to compete next year with the returning players we have–even though we lost a couple of good ones, too,” Sims said.

Sims last coached CCHS in the 2004 season, before stepping down after nearly 20 straight years leading the Lady Bulldogs.  His successor was Paige Smith, who coached the girls from 2005-2007, and Kimes has been at the helm for the past two seasons.

When asked what motivated him to return to coaching, Sims said “he really didn’t know,” and that he “just got the itch” again.

“I hadn’t really given it any thought until now, but I decided now was the time if I was ever going to,” Sims said.  “I’m excited about it and we’ll just have wait and see what happens.”