Jefferson’s New Athletic Director
The search for an Athletic Director can be a challenge for any district, but the administrators of Jefferson ISD feel as though they have made an excellent choice in deciding to bring back a graduate of Jefferson High School. Antwain Jimmerson graduated from Jefferson in 1987 and was a member of the State Championship Bulldog team under the leadership of Coach Jerry Bennett. Jimmerson has proven to be very successful since then by attending The University of Tulsa and receiving a Bachelor’s Degree in Health and Physical Education. He then went on to coach at Jenks High School in Jenks, OK where he was part of 4 state championship football teams and one state championship basketball team as an assistant. He was rewarded with being named the Athletic Director and Head Football Coach at Booker T. Washington in Tulsa, OK.
Rob Barnwell, Superintendent of JISD, tells of how happy he is to announce Jimmerson as the new Athletic Director and Head Football Coach. He states, “Coach Jimmerson has a proven record of success, but he is not just a good coach, as I believe he is a great person too. Our selection committee is very excited to see him come on board here and get to work implementing his philosophies throughout our athletic program. We not only expect to see our athletic program grow to new heights, but we believe that Coach Jimmerson will help our students realize their dreams and become the best all-around young people they can be. I encourage everyone to take an opportunity to come meet Coach Jimmerson and welcome him back home to his alma mater, Jefferson ISD.”
While talking to Jimmerson he continuously expresses his love for the community, the kids and the school system. When asked about his decision to return to the East Texas area and coach here in Jefferson, Jimmerson discusses his love for the community even more. He explains that Jefferson is home and he loves being back in East Texas. “I have been back for about five weeks, and I feel like I haven’t worked a day yet! I love everything about being here,” he expresses. Antwain’s father passed away during the 2008 football season and he knew at that time that he wanted to be closer to his mother to help her out. Jimmerson goes on to explain that his mother is his “rock” and that she is an unbelievable person. “My mother has always pushed me to be the best that I could be. There is no doubt that she is just as happy about me being here, or possibly even more happy than I am about my returning to Jefferson.”
Our discussion moved on to talks about the new position as the Athletic Director for JISD. He tells about some obstacles that he may have to overcome, such as coaching the children of his former classmates. While on one hand he is very excited about it, he also talks about how it can be a struggle at times. However, he does want everyone to know that he will do whatever he can to help each and every student. Coach Jimmerson said, “The parents have to know that I have a job to do and that I do not take that job lightly. I will love their kids and always push them to be the best that they can be.”
In just the short time that Jimmerson has been on the job he has already worked to start a few initiatives with the athletics program. He feels as though each of these will impact the athletic program in Jefferson and help each of their students to be successful. He is implementing weekly grade checks and has already seen a vast improvement. He has also started working on character education and has weekly talks with the students in the athletic program. He stated that they talk about all sorts of issues during those sessions and that it has been unbelievable to be a part of.
Other initiatives include getting each of the teams involved in community service as he believes in the importance of giving back to the community. Jimmerson recently took part in a “Boys to Men Breakfast” sponsored by First Baptist Church in Jefferson by speaking to a group of 8th grade boys about growing up in Jefferson, expectations for our athletes, and initiatives that are being started in JISD. He will also have all skilled athletes that are in off-season to participate in track. Jimmerson believes this will help them in all of their sports. He wants to encourage all of their athletes to support each of the other sports. Since starting this initiative he has seen an increase in attendance at softball and baseball games this year. “It was outstanding to see these athletes at other games supporting one another,” explains Jimmerson.
Being a Bulldog himself, Jimmerson reflects upon his experiences as a player to this team. He was very explicit when explaining what he thinks it means to be a Bulldog and explains that he wants each and every student in Jefferson to feel the same way. “I just want our kids to always know what being a Jefferson Bulldog is all about! We will always work hard! We will always be tough! WE WILL DEFEND THE YARD!” As he reflects on his time on the team he remembers how he would see the entire community come together to support the school and can’t wait to be a part of that once again!
Jimmerson also talks fondly of his former coach, Jerry Bennett, and all that he learned from him as a player. One of the most important things he feels he learned was about never giving up on a kid. “You can be as hard as you want to be on a kid as long as you love them,” Jimmerson remarks. He goes on to explain that if you build relationships with your athletes, they understand why you push them and expect so much of them. Jimmerson believes that once that happens, the kids will work even harder to reach those high expectations. Another thing he learned from Bennett was, “You have to make some tough decisions sometimes, but just make them,” he laughs. “There may be times you feel pressure, but you have to do what’s best for the kids so you might as well just make it.” Bennett also taught him that once your a Bulldog, you’re always a Bulldog.
As we were wrapping the interview up, Jimmerson explains that he not only wants to see attendance and grades go up, but he feels like he just wants to do the best job he can for the kids and the community. He expressed, “I want to let everyone know that the whole athletic staff, including myself, are committed to building a great athletic program in Jefferson, Texas. We are committed to preparing our young men and women for the challenges of life!”