BY GRANT LEDGISTER
Take a leap, compete, but don’t forget about those around you.
New Summit High School boys basketball coach Jim Fey is the embodiment of this philosophy.
“My expectation is always going to be to win and I have no reason to change my expectation,” he said. “I believe if you don’t have that expectation, then it’s okay to settle for just playing and I’m not one to settle for playing.”
Fey started out his coaching career as an assistant coach in college basketball at Trevecca and Columbia State, but when he felt he wasn’t getting the opportunities he desired, he switched to high school basketball.
Now, after closing the 23-years long chapter of his life spent at East Nashville, Fey is taking the leap to coach and compete at Summit High. He expects to bring wins to the school, but also knows there has to be respect paid to the path that has been laid by those that came before.
“The most important thing that I’m going to bring to Summit is my expectation of winning,” Fey said. “I think [former Summit head coach Josh Goodwin] did a great job of getting these guys in the right direction.”
As for that future, Fey is excited for every aspect of it. He loves the strong competitive nature of Williamson County athletics.
He’s eager to use players like the Wade brothers (Destin and Keaten) and Centennial transfer Tre Carlton, a key addition to the Spartans who could propel them to the top of the 11-AAA conversation, to build on what Summit had last year to launch them into the future successes.
“It’s going to be new to me and new to Tre Carlton a little bit, but everyone else, they’re coming in looking to compete and build off their success from last year.” Fey said. “The student sections are tremendous, and I’m looking forward to getting out there and experiencing that first hand.”
Fey is an experienced coach, and he knows that there are going to be challenges with having as talented a roster as the one he has at Summit. Tough decisions are ahead, but everything he will do is for the team’s and players’ benefits.
“It’s a management issue of trying to make sure that I rotate my kids correctly, have them in at the right time and try to keep them fresh, and try to keep them happy,” Fey said. “Sometimes you have to play a lot with smoke and mirrors to make things work.”
The new coach is not only a competitor, he is also someone that cares about cultivating and strengthening relationships with other competitors, his family and players.
Fey found out about the job at Summit through coaches he had gone up against and developed relationships with in Williamson County, before most of the public even knew the job was going to be open.
His family helps him when he needs it. He says he takes their suggestions and their jokes in stride.
“Well, my family’s sitting here laughing, they say I’m not very fun,” Fey said.
Any successful family is a two-way street, and Fey cares about the success and well-being of his family. The move to coach in Spring Hill wasn’t going to happen without his kids’ remaining education being taken into consideration.
“I’ve got a daughter and a son, and I think there’s a good possibility they end up at Summit with me,” Fey said. “I think it’ll be a good place for my family to finish their school years.”
Fey has only been coaching at Summit for a few weeks, but he’s already been able to start developing relationships with his players. He’s excited at the prospect of getting to work with all of his athletes at Summit.
“I really like what I have; it’s a very talented group,” Fey said. “They’re very enthusiastic and hard-working, and I think it’s going to be a good fit for everybody involved.”
Fey says he is looking forward to the high level of competition and the relationships that he will continue to form coaching at Summit. However, it’s not possible for Fey to look ahead to what he’s gaining without looking back on what he’s leaving behind at East Nashville.
The years of memories with the school, memories that won’t easily be forgotten, especially the memories with his athletes. Fey said that leaving those athletes will forever be one of the hardest things he’ll ever have to do as a basketball professional.
“It’s always going to be hard leaving the kids that you coach,” Fey said. “If it’s not, then you probably shouldn’t be coaching there anyway.”