Tuesday, June 04, 2013

SPORTS STORY >> Hanging up the whistle

Leader sports editor

Going out as a champion is the thing that everyone associated with sports dreams of. That dream is now a reality for Jacksonville girls basketball coach Katrina Mimms. A little less than three months after winning her first state championship, the 21-year coaching veteran is calling it quits as head Lady Red Devil.

Mimms handed in her resignation last week, and will now focus her professional attention on just being an algebra teacher.

Mimms’ final team went 26-4, winning its final 22 games in a row in earning the class 5A state championship on March 8. The Lady Devils beat Paragould in the title game at Barton Coliseum. Many factors went into Mimms’ decision, but that championship was certainly one of them.

“It’s the goal you work for your whole career, and when you reach it, you’re kind of like, what now?” said Mimms.

Though achieving the career ambition made the decision easier, resigning as coach is something that Mimms has been pondering for some time.

“I’ve been doing this for 21 years,” Mimms said. “I’ve been contemplating this for the last couple of years. I want to be with my kids more. They’re getting older and it’s time to spend more time being mom instead of coach.”

Mimms and her husband Rod have two boys, Caleb, age 11, and Caden, 8.

Even though the school gave her a new practice schedule this past year that worked out much better for her children, she still decided the time was right to hang up the whistle.

“I always said if I ever start dreading anything about this job, that would be the time to quit,” Mimms said. “During Christmas break, when it came time to leave the house and the family and open up the gym for practice, I started dreading that, even with this great team we had.

“It had nothing to do with the girls or basketball, it was just the time away from family. It’s not a situation where I can just say practice is at 10, and everybody will be there. I might have to go and pick up five of them, and then get them home. Calling a two-hour practice might take me five hours, and it ends up being almost a whole day. I just didn’t want to take that time away from home anymore. I just think this is a good time to break.”

Though Mimms has fully reconciled her decision to call it a career, she admits there are things she will greatly miss.

“You miss the game, the wins, the competition, you miss the feeling of all that,” Mimms said. “You miss the accomplishments, preparing for that team you’re maybe not supposed to beat, and seeing all that come together and winning that game.

“Mostly, though, I’m going to miss the kids. I won’t be as close to them as I have been. A lot of the ones on this team I pulled up as ninth graders. You watch them grow up and you’re a part of that. They’re my girls and I’d do anything for them. I always say I got my boys at home and my girls at school.”

Mimms closes her career with two programs resurrected. She started her career at North Pulaski at 22 years old. In three years she had that team in the state tournament.

It took her a little longer than three years at Jacksonville, but she leaves after its first-ever girls state championship.

Between the two schools, Mimms won five conference championships in basketball and volleyball, as well as this year’s state title.