NOTEBOOK: Retirement is short for Jim Holland, Lady Titans’ new coach


Jim Holland has come out of retirement to coach the Holy Spirit girls. (Photo by Staff file photo)


Jim Holland, who retired in 2011 after coaching the Central High School girls basketball team for 30 years, is back on the court with the Holy Spirit Lady Titans.

Holy Spirit improved to 5-0 Tuesday with a 68-48 victory over Sipsey Valley. Tamera Giles led the Lady Titans with 32 points.

"I think once you’re a coach, you’re always a coach," said Holland, who led Central to AHSAA championships in 1982, 1984 and 1996. "I believe God has blessed me to win in this position. But it’s not just about winning. I still think I have a little passion for this sport. Basketball is my first love, really, even though I excelled in football, track and baseball.

"I think I can help young talent develop their skills to become a better basketball player. If you are a student of the game, that means you are a student in class, and I think I should be able to coach you and teach you the basic things."

Holland, 64, succeeded Roger Taylor, who coached Holy Spirit to a 32-2 record last season. The Lady Titans reached the AHSAA Class 1A championship game, losing to McIntosh.

Rodney Green, Holy Spirit’s athletic director, declined to specify the reasons why Taylor was not retained. Green said the administration "decided to take a different route."

"Coach Holland has won three state championships," Green said. "He’s a hard worker. He demands a lot out of the girls. He knows what it takes to win, and we were fortunate to be able to bring him to our school and to continue the success that our girls program has enjoyed. We feel lucky to have him here and hope that he feels the same way."

When the job came open, Holland started getting phone calls.

"A couple of parents called me and asked me if I would consider it," Holland said. "I got a call from (Green), and then I got a call from the principal."

Holland had made a commitment to serve as a volunteer assistant on Dennis Conner’s football staff at Central. The Falcons qualified for the AHSAA Class 5A playoffs and finished with a 6-5 record.

"They worked with me on that," Holland said. "They allowed me to continue to be a volunteer football coach. I didn’t practice on Friday because I was with the (football) team. We practiced on the weekend, Saturdays and Sundays. That gave me some time with them."

Holland said he didn’t know if the Holy Spirit players knew about his championship credentials.

"I just came over here because I saw a need, and I think the girls have responded," Holland said. "I consider it a blessing to be able to coach for 35 years and have a degree of success. All I want them to do is respect me first as a person."

Taylor recently helped out the Tuscaloosa County girls program on a temporary basis. He coached the Lady Wildcats in a tournament and earned his 100th victory in four years.

Taylor said he might return to coaching if the "right opportunity" came along.

Taylor’s daughters, Kaitlyn and Rachel, played at Holy Spirit last season. Kaitlyn, now a freshman at Shelton State, was the leading scorer. Taylor said Rachel is at Hillcrest but is not playing basketball. She is receiving scholarship offers as a volleyball prospect.

"I put a lot of work into that place," Taylor said. "I kind of did it in support of my own kids, and I learned a lot about coaching. I thought we built a very good program. I knew we were building toward a championship run last year."

TCHS swimmer defending title

Kelly Berger, a senior at Tuscaloosa County High School, defends her 500-yard freestyle championship in the AHSAA Swimming and Diving Meet, which starts Friday and ends Saturday in Auburn.

Berger won the event last year in 4 minutes, 59.24 seconds. A Kentucky signee, Berger will also compete in the 200 individual medley.

Other TCHS qualifiers are Luke Bomar, Nicholas Bomar, William Bomar, Tyler Corbett, Amy Kirk, Sarah Morgan Lake, Kenneth B. Melvin, Parker Montgomery, Peyton Osborn, Marteria Prewitt, Taylor Rickel, Alexandra Smith and Jacob White.

Beth Allaway is the coach for the Northridge swimmers. Northridge qualifiers include Jewels Harris, Thompson Schille, Jack Hubner, Jay Hubner and John Mark McCleland.

Harris, an eighth-grader, is seeded third in the 100 butterfly and sixth in the 500 freestyle. Schille, a sophomore, is seeded ninth in the 500 freestyle and 16th in the 200 individual medley.

Allaway said she expected Harris and Schille to advance to the finals in both of their events.

"Jewels is a fabulous swimmer," Allaway said. "I love to see her in the water."

Holy Spirit will be represented by Zachary Smith, a seventh-grader who will compete in the 200 individual medley and the 500 freestyle.

TA represented in All-Star game

Senior members of the Tuscaloosa Academy football team capped off a 13-0 season by winning the AISA Class AAA title for the first time in school history. The Knights defeated Lee-Scott Academy of Auburn 27-26 in the championship game at Troy University.

Coach Robert Johnson will have the opportunity to coach six of the seniors one more time in the AISA All-Star Game, which will be at 7 p.m. Friday at Stanley Jensen Stadium in Prattville.

Tuscaloosa Academy players selected for the East team are Clay Thomas, running back and defensive back; J.D. Diaz, offensive guard and linebacker; Jonathan Plott, quarterback; Jonathan Teesdale, running back and defensive back; Kyle Andrews, defensive end; and Thomas Hahn, offensive and defensive lineman.

"It’s going to be a lot of fun," Johnson said. "We obviously want to win and show well, but it’s more about the kids enjoying each other and meeting other kids and just enjoying that one last time of being together. Just the fact that I get to be a part of that is really special."

Johnson coached the Knights to a playoff appearance and a 9-2 record in his first season in 2011.

Gartman, James to coach West

Pickens Academy’s John Gartman and Marengo Academy’s Robby James are among the West coaches for the AISA All-Star Game.

Gartman coached Pickens Academy to a 10-3 record. The Pirates advanced to the Class A championship game in Troy before losing to Restoration Academy 48-13.

James’ Marengo Academy (7-5) reached the second round of the playoffs.

Pickens Academy players chosen for the West team are Chase Britt, offensive and defensive lineman; Garrett Estes, linebacker and running back; Hunter Booth, center and defensive lineman; and Joel Pratt, running back and defensive back.

Southern Academy will be represented by Cole Marsh, wide receiver, defensive back and punter; Jacob Rose, fullback and linebacker; and Justin Broussard, linebacker.

Sumter Academy’s Christopher Yonker was chosen to play for the West.

Rosters, schedules needed

West Alabama boys and girls basketball coaches are encouraged to send in schedules and rosters to The Tuscaloosa News. The information can be faxed to 205-722-0118 or sent by email to andrew.carroll@tuscaloosanews.com or to sports@tuscaloosanews.com.

Coaches are also encouraged to call in game reports. Have your scorekeeper write down first and last names of players for both teams. Call 205-722-0236 or 866-400-8477 on the day or night the game is played.

 

Reach Andrew Carroll at andrew.carroll@tuscaloosanews.com or at 205-722-0223.