Academics first then basketball for players in KC squad

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When it comes to her team, Kilgore College women’s basketball coach Anna Nimz does not base her impact on the wins and losses in her record.

“I will always put academics and character first before wins,” she said. “One year, I removed a girl after multiple chances. Best player, she was a national type player of the year; she just didn’t fit what I promised all you guys that I would hold in my program. She went on to go play for a team that went to the national tournament and a lot of people think I’m stupid, but she wasn’t representing you guys and she wasn’t representing myself, and sometimes you got to make the tough choice.”

Five of her players ended last year with 4.0 grade point averages with two named academic All-Americans, which requires at least a 3.8 GPA, and one barely missing the cut. All three, she said, have the opportunity to earn academic scholarships at four-year institutions. Nimz will have eight sophomores – seven players and one manager – graduate on time in May, she told the Lions Club earlier this year.

“We were the NJCAA All-Academic team, so on top of being region runner-up, national ranked, 21-wins, we were the NJCAA, which is our national conference, we were the NJCAA All-Academic team. I always want us to have success on the court, but we definitely found success where I think all of us feel it’s most important for the girls,” she said.

To be named the NJCAA All-Academic team, the team had to have a collective GPA of a 3.5 or higher.

“To get 15-16 individuals and maintain a 3.5 takes a lot of time and tutoring and time and individual time in our office sitting with the desk in our office, facing the wall, simply their presence with us tends to keep them on task.”

If their grades start to slip, the coaches may take their phones to eliminate the distraction.

“These girls put in a lot of work to maintain that 3.5. At semester of this year we were 9-3 and 3-1 going into conference. We had a team GPA of a 3.3. We know where we’re at semester wise and where we want to grow. A team GPA of a 3.3 with 16 kids is still something to be very proud of; for you guys to be proud of, the girls at Kilgore and me as a coach.”

Nimz is still aiming for a NJCAA championship and her team will go into Wednesday’s Region XIV Tournament quarterfinal game against Blinn College with a 19-10 record.

All of her sophomores have an opportunity, she thinks, to play at a Division 1 level. Not all of them will choose to play at a D-1 level, though, because of factorsuinrelated to the basketball court.

The questions Nimz asked her players as they decide where to continue their education and playing careers are: “Are you going to make an impact? Do they have your degree? What’s your relationships with the boss?”

At the beginning of the year, Nimz took her team to visit her home in Kansas. After a dinner cooked by her parents, Nimz said, she and some of the team played basketball in the yard. Growing up, though, Nimz would have helped clear the table and do the dishes.

“They have a window that overlooks the side yard so I could see in, and three of my girls were doing dishes with my mom. I didn’t ask them to… The fact that they waited until everyone kind of funneled out. That’s just the kind of team I have,” Nimz said, noting the players also volunteer in the community at various events, including SAFFE Day.

Nimz told the club she takes on the role of mom for her players, to the point that even when they were home be with their families over the holiday, they still called Nimz.

“I ride my girls. I am strict; I am disciplined. I am sure, at times, mean, in the sense that my expectations, I run the world out of those girls. But they always know it comes from the right place,” she said.

Even though it should be better for her to send her players to D-1 schools, she said, that is not how she will mark her impact or whether her players were successful.

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