When Jim Schmidt retired as Plano athletic director last month, he noted an itch to return to coaching.
He is about to scratch that itch down the road.
The 56-year-old Schmidt, who retired as AD at Plano after last school year, his 33rd at his alma mater, has been hired as the varsity girls basketball coach at Sandwich.
Schmidt was hired June 21 and was able to coach the Indians for two weeks. Sandwich went 7-1 to win the Plano Summer League.
“I went over, helped with practice one day, saw they worked really hard and had some talent, talked to [Sandwich AD Tim] Gipe and said I am interested and I applied,” Schmidt said. “I couldn’t be happier. It’s a great group of girls, eight senior girls. I can definitely see the talent that is coming, and the effort I’ve seen so far has been great.”
[ After 33 years as teacher, coach and administrator, Plano AD Jim Schmidt retiring ]
It’s been a while since Schmidt has coached basketball in school – but he’s far from a stranger to the game.
He’s coached his son’s youth team for several years recently. His first six years of coaching, 1989-1995, he coached junior high basketball at Plano.
“I’ve been around basketball enough to see what it takes to be successful,” Schmidt said. “I’m looking forward to the challenge and learning and that kind of stuff.”
More than anything, he’s eager for a return to coaching. He last coached high school sports in 2007.
“That was the thing I missed most about being an AD,” Schmidt said. “I loved being an AD, but I always wished I could still coach and be an AD, but it didn’t go together. I got my fix coaching basketball and football at the youth level. I thought this is a chance to get back into it, work with my daughter, maybe groom her.”
Indeed, Schmidt’s daughter MiKayla, who was JV coach and varsity assistant last season at Sandwich under Randy Malloy, will stay on in that capacity. Schmidt’s niece Anna Love was Sandwich’s freshman coach last season, and will stay on as part of his coaching staff.
Schmidt thought it would perhaps be a big thing for his players that a Plano guy was coming over to Sandwich to coach, but none of them took it that way.
“They’re willing to give me a chance,” he said. “They know MiKayla, they know I’m her dad, they’re willing to give me a chance. I told them I do bleed purple, but I’m also competitive and I will want to beat Plano.”
Schmidt’s Sandwich team, in fact, beat Plano twice this month, the second time for the summer league championship.
“It was a little awkward,” Schmidt said.
Sandwich is coming off a tough 9-23 season after four straight winning seasons, but Schmidt believes the pieces are in place for a bounceback.
“I felt like this group is so talented, they just needed a leader. I really feel like this group can be a 20-plus-win team,” he said. “The eight senior girls are super talented, the sophomores are super talented, it’s a good mix of girls. I’ve never seen a bunch of girls work as hard as they have in the short time I’ve been with them.”
It will be a busy school year for Schmidt. He’s going to be the defensive coordinator for Plano’s sophomore football team in the fall, coach Sandwich basketball in the winter and coach his son’s U-14 travel baseball team in the spring.
“Everybody that’s talked to me has said ‘Geez, I thought you retired,’” Schmidt said, “but I never said I was going from 100 miles per hour to 0. I wanted to slow down, not be committed year-round 65 hours a week. I wanted to do something, and I don’t look at coaching as a job. I look at it as a hobby and I feel that I’m good at motivating girls and boys.
“It will be fun. I will enjoy it. I’m not going to enjoy the Plano-Sandwich matchup. That will be hard for me. But I told the girls I want to win no matter who we play.”