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Sparkman’s Jamie Coggins Finalist For National Coach Spirit Award

HARVEST- Longtime Sparkman High basketball coach Jamie Coggins has always been a people-person. Always willing to carry on a conversation with anyone who is willing to speak with him and his charming personality and friendly face. In athletics, his demeanor is called “spirit.”

The 48-year old’s deep imbedded spirit towards his fellow man compared to others is above and beyond the call of duty as he helps build school pride, student engagement and overall community spirit. For his extraordinary efforts Coggins has been selected as one of 13 finalists for the Varsity Brands School Spirit Coach Award. He was chosen from 1,000 coaches from all over the country who were nominated for the fifth annual awards.

“I’m honored to be selected and this shows the program we run at Sparkman is one where players, managers and coaches all pull in one direction,” said Coggins. “Our basketball program is more than just basketball. It’s about having relationships.”

Coggins has been with the basketball program at Sparkman for 13 years, the last eight as head coach. His teams have been competitive and super-charged when it comes to team and school spirit. He leads his student-athletes in that way and has incorporated his enthusiasm far beyond the 84×50-foot dimensions of the standard high school basketball court.

“We try and help with school events, especially the Special Ed Dept., as I help with their basketball league and I include my players, too,” said Coggins of the games that are played during school hours.

The Varsity Brands Coach Award is for the individual who helps to create results on and off the playing field/court. A spirited coach not only increases each athlete’s success potential, but also the character development, humility, grace and sportsmanship along with academic success. Coggins incorporates an assortment of activities within the school matched to the basketball program.

Coggins has team managers with special needs. They are treated and respected just like the roster of players on the team. He added, “We make them accountable for their actions and academics and expect them to work hard at their responsibilities just as much as the players. We expect our managers to pull their own weight within the program and we teach our players to treat them as equals on the team.”

His colleagues help by keeping on the lookout for potential students who can fit into the role as a team manager. “Our managers have always brought joy to our program as they teach us about life as they demonstrate to us how to be grateful and thankful for all we have in life,” said Coggins.

Another undertaking Coggins has initiated and is very close to his heart is having a military veteran be a part of the program as a leader and inspiration for all. For the past two seasons, Charles Henry has been in that role. The 94-year old veteran of World War II is a designated honorary coach for the Senators who influences the young players on the team to do the best they can, to live a clean life and to stay away from trouble areas and situations. Henry speaks from the heart of what many call the greatest generation in our country’s history.

“My wife (Erin) and I met Henry while doing some volunteer work with the veterans,” said Coggins. “Having veterans a part of the program does something to you. The experience changes your look on life.”

The required submission for the award nomination included a 500-word essay detailing why the nominee is deserving of the award, a letter of recommendation from a leader in the community and two photos highlighting school spirit. The judging was conducted by select leaders from each of Varsity Brands’ divisions- BSN Sports, Varsity Spirit and Herff Jones.

The winners were to be announced at an annual awards ceremony at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Fla., but recent travel restrictions due to the coronavirus situation caused the event to be cancelled, so winners will be announced via the internet on May 9. The Coach Spirit Award winner will be presented $3,000 for the coach’s athletic program.

“I’m honored to be nominated, but if I win, that will be the highlight of my career,” said Coggins.

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