SETH — The prospect of retiring wasn’t an easy one for Sherman High softball coach Jim Henderson.
“In some ways it wasn’t an easy decision to make, but in others I just knew it was time,” he said.
Henderson served as the skipper for the Class A school’s only team state title in 2019, and he said that at the time he felt good about the Tide’s chances of repeating in 2020.
Then COVID-19 entered the picture.
“To put it in proper perspective, COVID was a terrible thing for so many people and that is awful,” he said. “For us, we lost that season when it was canceled due to the pandemic and it may be the one thing that hurts the most — our girls couldn’t go out and defend their title. We had a returning nucleus and tournament experience that in my opinion could have won it for a second consecutive year, but we’ll never know.”
The retired educator said that it was special to have coached at the school where he was also a student-athlete, but that he looks forward to watching his grandchildren play sports and spending time with his wife Wyvanda, who is set to retire from the Boone County Clerk’s office in 2022.
“We aren’t the kind of folks who really enjoy traveling all that much but we enjoy our family and that is where our time will be spent,” he noted.
Henderson started the Sherman softball program from scratch in 1993. In addition to the title, his squads won 12 section championships, including eight in a row, plus four regional titles and a state runner-up finish in 2018.
“I’ve coached one sport or another for over 40 years,” he said. “I have a third grandchild on the way. I’ll always follow Sherman sports but I’m looking forward to the next phase of our lives.”
Henderson’s coaching stops have included middle school football, boys and girls basketball, tennis, high school football and even elementary school sports in the early 1980s.
The coach said that he’s leaving the Tide at a time when there is plenty of talent in the middle school pipeline and the team will only graduate three players next year, which bodes well for the future.
“There is plenty of talent and in my opinion they will be good for quite a few years and we are also in good shape financially,” he added.
The Tide finished the 2021 regular season at 14-5 and saw its season come to an end with a loss to Buffalo in the sectional championship play.
Henderson said that looking back, his fondest memories aren’t centered entirely on wins, stellar pitching performances and timely hits.
“It’s a family and I’ll miss that aspect of it,” he said. “I’ll miss watching the girls grow as players and as people. I’ll miss teaching the game and all that comes with that.”
He cherished the opportunity to coach his sons David and the late Wes Henderson during his career. His love for competition wasn’t lost on his sons. David went on to play basketbal at West Virginia University Institute of Technology and has served as both the head coach and assistant for Sherman’s boys basketball team.
While Henderson’s win total could not be calculated, based on Coal Valley News archives the figure rests at approximately 400 victories, and his overall 40-year tenure as a prep coach ranks among the longest county-wide in a fraternity that includes legendary names like Bobb Scholl and Eddie Cox at Scott, Steve Bradley at Van and Lloyd Banks at Sherman.
“Looking back to 1992 when I was approached about starting a program, Scott and Van High already had teams and I remember that we had a sign-up sheet to see how many girls would be interested as a way of testing the waters for participation” he said. “That first year we had 25 or so players and that was a good start. I was in my early 30s and I thought I’d do it forever, and as we get older, we realize it isn’t forever. Sports has always been a huge part of my life since I was a young kid. That won’t change.”
Henderson concluded, “I want to enjoy the rest of my life with my wife and my son David and his family. I told the girls on the team that I’d continue to support the maroon and gold. I’ll always be around to watch them compete. That won’t change, either.”