Nichols was one of county’s best

Published 3:21 pm Thursday, July 16, 2009

Even though it’s a few months after the fact reporting that Thompson head basketball coach Jeff Nichols stepped down from his basketball duties, it is still key to point out what the man did in his short varsity career.

Nichols was one of the most impressive boys’ hoops coaches this decade in Shelby County, and in the state of Alabama. It was a shock to hear that he will not be leading the Warriors this winter. However, the man should be commended for the job change. After all, you can’t pass up the job opportunity he has been given — being a dad.

Nichols’ decision to step aside is because he wants to be able to watch his children play sports, cheer or whatever they may choose to do. But don’t worry, Nichols’ coaching days aren’t over. He plans to pick up with either Upward Bound football or recreation basketball with his boys.

For the past three basketball seasons that I’ve been with the Shelby County Reporter, Nichols’ name has come up as a possible Coach of the Year.

This past year, I felt we couldn’t go without awarding it to Kevin Smith for his work to lead Shelby Academy to a state championship. While not many can argue with awarding a state champion coach, I still felt Nichols was deserving. My answer to those who asked was, “He’s going to be a candidate every year. We’ll award him next year.” I guess I was wrong.

Over the past eight years at Thompson, Nichols posted a 126-110 record and departs the program on top after three consecutive runs to the Class 6A Northeast Regional. He won five area championships, even when they were not easy to come by.

At the start of the 2008-09 season, I would not have given Thompson a chance to win area, but after knocking off Oak Mountain twice and Hoover once, the Warriors were in position. Talent has been tremendous at Thompson, but a lot of this success needs to be pointed to the head coach.

Jeff, you always said it was about the kids. I wish you the best as you now focus on your kids.