CENTERBURG — Jim Simpson has always considered his basketball teams family. The players that have come through his system have become an intregal part of his family — as he’s spent a large amount of time with them in the gym, on the road and at his house.
After 25 years of coaching at Centerburg, Simpson is ready to spend more time with his real family — his wife, Sally, his son, Skyler, and his daughter, Tristen — so he hung up his coaching whistle recently.
“This last year I felt like was a trial because Tristen and Skyler were so involved in other things. Skyler was at Baldwin-Wallace and Tristen is playing volleyball and basketball. I wanted to see how it went, but I just missed too much,” Simpson said. “They are too important to me. Those games I missed I’m not going to get back. It’s time. I’ve done my years. I don’t want to feel like I’m cutting people short.”
Coaching has been his life and his passion for the past 30-plus years. Simpson’s first year as a teacher saw him take over as girls basketball coach at Highland. He was thrust into the job at the last minute, but he already knew that coaching was something he wanted to do.
His father, C. Norris Simpson, had coached Miller City to a state title in his first year as coach, then spent many years coaching and teaching at the high school level.
“I learned a lot from my dad. He was my No. 1 resource,” Simpson said.
After several years as a junior varsity and assistant coach, Simpson took over the boys varsity basketball team at Centerburg in 1986. That team won the school’s first sectional tournament game in 18 years and its first sectional title in 20.