By Richard Rourk
The Unicoi County High School Blue Devil Boys Basketball team has a new head coach and the school system didn’t have to look far for him.
Unicoi County Middle School basketball coach Jordan Simmons has been tapped to helm the UCHS boys basketball team.
“It’s a dream come true to me,” Simmons told The Erwin Record. “My desire to lead this program as coach outweighed any sacrifice I had to make. The timing was right. After a lot of time talking with family and praying we decided this was the journey we wanted to take. I couldn’t do this without the support of my family. It’s exciting and a great time to be a Blue Devil.”
Simmons replaces UCHS Boy’s coach John Good who stepped down following the 2020-21 season. Good, who came to UCHS from David Crockett High School, became coach of the Blue Devils on April 8, 2019. In his two seasons with UCHS, his teams amassed a 33-32 record.
“I’m familiar with these players not only from the time they played at the middle school level but as their principal,” Simmons said.
According to Unicoi County Schools Director John English, there were some quality options for replacing Good, but Simmons stood out above the rest.
“We received a lot of interest and honestly high-quality coaches,” English said.
Simmons is no stranger to the Devil’s Den. Simmons was a three-time all-conference player for the Blue Devils from 1999-2001. Simmons went on to be the 2000 Conference Player of the Year and honorable mention All-state.
Following his high school career, during which Simmons finished with 1,482 points, Simmons moved on to play for Tusculum College and Milligan College, where he was a two-time Academic All-Conference selection. “Even when I was a Pioneer and Buffalo, I was always a Blue Devil,” Simmons said. “I grew up a Blue Devil and still am a Blue Devil.”
Following his playing career, Simmons came back to UCHS as an assistant coach for both the girls and boys basketball programs at UCHS.
“I’ve had the opportunity to coach under some great coaches,” Simmons said. “My vision is to work hard, stay competitive and do things the right way. There has been a long tradition of success in this program going back all the way to the early ’80s. When you look at coaches like coach (Keith) Turner, coach (John) English, coach (Michael) Smith and most recently coach (John) Good, to name a few, those are some of the best coaches that our area has seen.”
Simmons took over as head coach of the UCMS Boys program in 2019. Simmons, who also serves as UCMS’s principal, will give up both positions and return to the classroom for the 2021-22 school year.
“He (Simmons) is making a lot of sacrifices to take this position,” English said. “He is ready to make the switch and has been a vital part of the basketball program. His teams last year went for a combined 14-1 prior to getting shut down for COVID.”
According to English, no principal or head coach has been named for UCMS at this time.
“We have started those conversations,” English said, “and whoever we choose will have big shoes to fill.”
For more information, look in the sports section of the next edition of The Erwin Record on Wednesday, April 14.