When Fair Park High School closed and merged with Booker T. Washington last year, then-Fair Park head girls basketball coach Cherise Sims became an assistant at BTW.
After six years as a head coach, it took some getting used to. But in the end, Sims said she benefitted from the experience.
“It allowed me to sit back and evaluate myself as a coach,” Sims said. “I got to sit back and watch things from a different perspective. I learned things … It gave me a time to reevaluate myself and see what I could do differently next time I get a position as a head coach.”
It didn’t take long for there to be a “next time.” Last month, she was named head coach at Bossier, replacing DeShawn Williams. Williams has moved to Dallas. His wife, an Air Force recruiter, was transferred there in January.
Sims said she is excited to be a head coach again. She feels Bossier is the right spot for her.
“I think it’s a great situation — the environment, the support of the community and the staff,” she said. And the girls are eager to play. They’ve welcomed me with open arms so I’m very excited to jump in and get started.”
She said Bossier principal David Thrash has been especially helpful.
“He is wonderful,” she said. “He’s making me feel at home. He’s helping me adjust there and get everything I needed as far as access, letting me know things about school. He’s just been really great in the transitioning. He just keeps confirming in me that I was the person for the job. He believes in me.”
Sims was a star at Booker T. Washington from 1995-99. After being named All-District all four seasons under coaches Sondra Lawrence and Terrence Winn, she went on to play at Southern University.
She led Fair Park to a remarkable turnaround in girls basketball. Her first team went 1-24. The next year, the Lady Indians went 19-10 and made the playoffs.
In her third and fourth seasons, Fair Park was the undefeated district champion.
Sims takes over a Bossier team that went 25-7 last season. The Lady Kats reached the 4A quarterfinals before losing to eventual state champion Warren Easton.
Bossier lost six seniors from that team, including first-team All-Parish standouts Dra’Nautica Thomas and Destiny Thomas.
Even so, Sims believes the players coming up can build on the success.
“The potential is there,” she said. “We are very young. They’ll learn a lot of the basics during the summer. So once I implement some of the things I do, I think we can build a program that will continue to be one of the best programs in the city.”
Sims has already been bonding with her team. She took them to the Ouachita Parish team camp. The Lady Kats will also play games at Southwood and Airline later this summer.
They also are scrimmaging against Plain Dealing. Sims said veteran Lady Lions coach Shelia Bryant Dupree is a mentor of hers.
“We may be a little inexperienced, but they’re hungry,” Sims said of her players. “They have playoff experience. They’ve been there with the older girls, and they want to experience that for themselves, so they’re eager to get back there and go farther.”
— Russell Hedges, email@example.com