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Coach Kenny Sims: Telling stories and influencing young lives

By Staff | Jun 12, 2020

SHEPHERDSTOWN — Data and records are kept when it comes to the winning and losing in all manner of sports.

After a season is completed, people know what a team’s record was. But in 25 or 30 years, few will know the record, or even much care about what it was.

Those associated with a particular team will have a filing cabinet of stories about the season. Winning or losing won’t mean as much as the personalities of the team’s players and how well the individuals got along with teammates, coaches and others associated with that particular season.

Statistics will be mostly lost to the ravages of time. But smiles, good-natured teasing, off-beat happenings and once-in-a-lifetime events will be the memories that lasted from games and post-event happenings from long ago.

Besides the numerous stories filed in the players’ memories, another focal point of remembering past seasons can be each individual and his influence on teammates. A player’s sense of humor, lack of ego, helpfulness, leadership, caring about the welfare of the team and not brooding over his own statistics are the human ingredients that combine to make up how a player is remembered by his teammates.

One of the state’s better story tellers and most influential personalities was both a player and a coach for many decades, beginning with his high school days at Jane Lew High School in Lewis County.

Kenny Sims, who recently passed away in Jefferson County at age 93, seemed to know and remember so many sports personalities in the state that his nimble mind could talk circles around so many subjects and even eras that he could command the attention of a crowd whether it was a playoff game, stories about all-time great athletes like Green Bank’s Bruce Bosley or remembering the years when he was at Jane Lew, two-year college Potomac State or West Virginia Tech for his final two years of collegiate eligibility. At Jane Lew High, Sims scored 1,500 points in his basketball career, a number that stood for years as a state record before finally being eclipsed.

Beginning in 1953, Coach Sims was first seen on the sidelines in this state at Green Bank High, where in eight seasons he produced four undefeated seasons and lost a total of only seven games. Bosley and brother John were the most talented players Coach Sims had at Green Bank.

In 1961, Coach Sims moved to the Eastern Panhandle to coach football and take over the duties of athletic director for the Panthers of Charles Town High. He coached football at Charles Town until 1965, when he was hired by the U.S. Job Corps in Zoar to be in charge of Vocational Training in the federal program just getting started.

Off the field, Sims added to his volume of stories and anecdotes as a member of organizations like the Lions Club, several other charitable groups, football and basketball officiating associations and as an elder in a local Catholic church. He was also an elected member of the Jefferson County Board of Education for 12 years.

Through thick and thin for more than 70 years, he was a devoted follower of the fortunes of the West Virginia University football team, securing season tickets for decades at a time.

He had playing and coaching records to be proud of, but Sims etched his most important legacies with his laugh-out-loud stories, detailed memory and giving personality that could be both influencing and endearing.