There’s nothing quite like going out on top.
Jacksonville Lady Devil basketball coach Katrina Mimms has made the decision to step down as the head coach after finishing this past season as the Class 5A state champion and the Arkansas Preps girls basketball Coach of the Year.
The decision comes down to her family - she is married with two sons - and the difficulties of devoting herself fully to either.
“I told myself that when the day comes when I just dread going to practice that it is time to step away, and I really had some of those moments during Christmas break,” said Mimms. “I’m losing time that I could have been spending at home with my family. I’d have to take the kids somewhere for a sitter, then maybe pick up a few girls whose parents were working and couldn’t get them to practice. What was going to be a two-hour practice turns into a five or six hour day and I was dreading doing it.”
Mimms began coaching 21 years ago as a fresh-faced 22-year-old at North Pulaski. The Lady Falcons had no girls basketball tradition to speak of, but were in the playoffs in a few years and made it to the semifinals in 2000.
“I was right out of college and didn’t even have an assistant at first,” Mimms said. “Talk about on the job training. I wish I could go back and apply everything I’ve learned over the years.”
While Mimms is stepping down from the high school basketball scene, she is going to coach the ninth grade junior Lady Devils and will continue to teach in Jacksonville.
“I still have the love for the game and want to teach girls the game,” said Mimms. “You reach that point where you wonder if you’re giving your best to the players. I was losing time with my family, but that’s where my heart was, so the players weren’t getting my best either even though I was there. Stepping down to junior high, you’re talking about closer to 15 games than 30 and a less hectic schedule.”
With the thought of leaving the high school team in the back of her mind, what happened as her final season developed became all the more special.
The Lady Devils went undefeated in conference, then ran roughshod through the state tournament, culminating with Jacksonville’s first state girls basketball state championship.
“It has been brewing for a while you know, thinking this could be it during the season,” Mimms said. “So it really made it even sweeter the more we won knowing it could be my last go-round.
“Then getting that ring and seeing the girls get their rings, that was amazing. You always work toward that and you talk about it, but getting to actually experience it was awesome. I’m never going to forget that moment.”