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GATFXCCA Coaches Spotlight
NAME: Jimmy Sorrells (Carrollton)
Please list some of the highlights of your team’s/individual’s accomplishments:
I’ve coached 17 teams to a Top 4 Finish (All State Trophies) in Cross Country and Track. This includes 5 State Team Runners’ up and 4 State Championships. In 2017, I received the Paul Koshewa Atlanta Track Club Award which recognized me for outstanding dedication to the sport of cross country.
As a coach, I’ve pushed myself to obtain credible education regarding our sport.
How long have you been coaching and at what schools?
My coaching career in public schools started in 1996 at Heard County High School. Quite interestingly regarding the sport of Cross Country and Track, I was only responsible for Track because at that time Heard County did not have a Cross Country Team. So, I was a middle school football coach, but my duties included Track and Field in the spring…without a track. After two years, at Heard County, I moved to Hall County to work and coach at Davis Middle School. From 1999 to 2002, I coached middle school cross country, basketball, and track there. Then in 2002, Flowery Branch opened, and I was able become the Head Cross Country Coach and an assistant Basketball Coach. In 2008, I took over the Head Track Coach job at Flowery Branch as well. In 2018, I decided to part ways with Flowery Branch and spent one year at North Forysth High School working as an assistant Cross-Country coach, assistant Basketball, and assistant Track Coach. In the spring of 2019, an opportunity opened for me to return home to Carrollton, Georgia. I am now the Head Cross Country Coach at Carrollton High School, assistant Basketball, and an assistant Track Coach responsible for the distance program.
How did you get into teaching/coaching? Did you have running in your background?
At the end of my undergraduate degree and running career at West Georgia, I made a decision to help with cross country program at West Georgia and a door opened for me to get my Masters in Physical Education and Health. I was blessed with a decent running career at West Georgia. I was able to make it to the National Cross-Country Championships in 1993 and earn All-American Honors running 29:43 in the 10k. In 2001, West Georgia inducted me into their Athletic Hall of Fame. When I finished my stint of earning a Masters, I began my coaching and teaching career. I felt lead to coach because the sport had done so much for me in shaping my life and developing my character.
What would you say is your overall coaching philosophy/motivation?
My Core philosophy as a Coach:
For me, my coaching has become about building appropriate relationships with my student athletes…but most importantly I don’t care about how fast they run but “how I make them feel”
I want to continue to grow as a coach, which includes Coaching Education, dialoguing with other coaches, and becoming a life-long learner as coach.
I want to be a servant leader; I understand that I will best serve my athletes and fellow coaches if I have a servant leadership heart.
What is your opinion about the state of XC/Track in Georgia right now? Any changes you'd like to see happen?
I think the quality of competition has increased in our sport because of the quality of the coaches has improved throughout the State. Also, there has been an increase in quality venues allowing more meets and competitions to take place throughout the State.
I have seen a decrease in participation in the sprints and jumps because of the pressure by other sports to have those athletes specialize in sports. I wish other coaches would be more open-minded and invested in the value of Track and Field.
I do wish the Cross-Country season would be pushed back about two weeks in the school year closer to Thanksgiving break. This would also allow for a later start in the season to avoid the hotter weather that adversely affect races and training.
I also would like to see the track season extended about a week or two to match the schedule that other states have. We have a significant number of athletes that compete in post-season track events. These events come much later in the summer for our athletes after the State Track meet. It makes it difficult to hold a peak. But if our State Track Meet matched the schedule of other states our athletes would be able to roll right into those post-season events. The same would be true for cross country as well. What would really make it easy if we started school much later like we did in the past.
Finally, I would like to the see the state of Georgia match the NFHS by including the 4 X 200 and the 4 X 800. Athletes would be able to compete in 4 events and there would be only one relay team for all relay events. I feel like we are in the Dark Ages a little in the State of Georgia because of this.
How are you different now as a coach vs when you started?
I am more compassionate. I have learned that you never know what someone’s story is until you take time to get to know them. I am also more compassionate because I have children of my own that have been coached by others. I wanted those coaches to treat my sons with the same compassion that I show to my athletes.
As a coach, I have realized that I don’t know it all. I am nowhere close to have the wealth of knowledge as some of my peers and other professionals. Because of that, I have tried to continue to learn and share with others what I can do to become a better coach.
What are the things about coaching that you really enjoy?
I love the comradery of our sport. I love how it bonds athletes, coaches, and almost everyone who is involved. I really don’t feel there is a need for trash talking and poor sportsmanship. When that does happen, it seems so odd. For the most part, I find myself cheering for everyone and for other athletes and coach’s success. I think it easy to do that because we understand the stress and strain, we go through to achieve our goals. I also love watching the self-confidence that it builds in individuals. I love watching how it builds character in athletes and how it teaches life skills.
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