Ian Kimbrell hopes to one day have the same success that his dad, Dorman girls cross country coach Jerry Kimbrell, has enjoyed over the past dozen years.
In order to achieve it, he knows pacing himself is the best strategy rather than to sprint from the start. That's exactly what the newly named head boys and girls cross country coach at Union County High School plans to do.
Kimbrell, who graduated from Erskine this past spring, is taking on his first coaching job with only six runners, three boys and three girls, entering this season. That's not an issue for the former all-region runner as his vision is to build the program step-by-step.
"I view it as an opportunity to build a program and learn to become a successful coach," Ian said. "We'll see how far it goes down the road. I hope it does go far. I love my runners. I love every one of them."
Kimbrell earned all-region honors as a freshman and sophomore at Dorman before giving up cross country to focus on baseball. He was a member of three straight region championship cross country teams, as well as helping lead the Cavaliers to a region title in baseball as a junior. He missed most of his senior year due to a hamstring injury. He went on to play baseball collegiately at USC-Sumter and Erskine.
Kimbrell will teach physical education and serve as the pitching coach for the Yellow Jackets baseball team under former Dorman coach Jesse Dyar. He said that the opportunity at Union County presented itself through a close connection.
"My girlfriend got a job at Union County," Ian said. "She said that they had a P.E. job open. I had called and had an interview at Dorman, but then called my neighbor Jim Gault, who is an assistant baseball coach at Union, and asked if they had a job open. He said to please go an interview. They said in the interview that they wanted a coach that could do multiple sports. I'm excited to be able to coach the boys and girls teams. It's a small team that hasn't had a lot of success and a chance to build a program. The main thing I want is to help them be a benefit to society and be successful leaving Union County High School."
Jerry Kimbrell, who is entering his 13th season at Dorman, has a state championship (2010), two state runners-up finishes, eight Spartanburg County and five region titles under his belt. In addition, he's led the Cavaliers to seven top-three and 10 top-five state finishes. He said that his son has all of the tools to a top-level coach.
"When he told me Jesse had called him and they were going to hire him to be an assistant baseball and head coach of boys and girls cross country, I was really proud of him," Jerry said. "He's in for a lot of work, and he knows it. He's building them from the ground floor, and he's excited about it. As a dad, it's cool to see. He's coming up here on Friday for a scrimmage, and I'm kind of giddy about it. I can't wait to just watch him. He's got a chance to make a difference in those kids' lives. He's so positive and energetic, and it will make a difference."
Ian said that his dad is known for being vocal when needed to get a point across to his runners. It's a trait that he's sure will be inherited as he develops his own coaching style.
"I haven't had the opportunity to yell at them yet, but when I do I'm sure it will cross the back of my mind," said Ian with a laugh. "I understand why he did what he did with me. We butted heads a lot, but I know he loves me and why he pushed me. When I graduated this year, he was the first one that came up to me crying and hugging me. I'm sure I'll lean a lot on him, (Dorman boys cross country coach) Jeff Buys and all of my former coaches I've had. I'd rather be a runner-friendly coach and get mad when I need to. That's what kids react the best to is showing them love and compassion and also getting on them when you need to."