Road to the Rings: Missouri Southern State Coach Jeff Sims Talks Championships

By Dan Guttenplan, FNF Coaches Editor

Each month, Legend Rings sponsors a Q&A with a champion high school coach. The supplier of custom championship rings has worked with many championship teams over the years, outfitting coaches and players with keepsakes following memorable seasons.

Jeff Sims was hired as head coach of the Missouri Southern State University head coach in November of 2018.  Sims came to the Lions with more than 24 years as a high school and college coach. For the previous four seasons, Sims was the head coach at Garden City where he led the team to a 32-12 record, including the 2016 Junior College National Championship.

FNF Coaches recently connected with Sims for an interview.

At what point during a championship season do you start to get a sense that you’re part of something special?

“It’s kind of not a moment. It’s a growth throughout the year. It’s like raising a kid. You see them go through different stages of life. First, you put in the work to get that first win. Then, you win a close game. Then, you win a big game. A great team never thinks it’s going to lose. As the team grows throughout the season, you start to sense what the end result is going to be because of how they follow through on things.”

How do you avoid having your players become complacent on a championship team?

“The great thing about our sport is there are always things to correct. I would tell you a great quote I’ve heard from Vince Lombardi: ‘When a team is good, be their worst enemy. When a team is bad, be their best friend.’ If you come and watch me coach, you’ll see that on the days I push the hardest, we have a better team. If I’m more laid back and even keel, we probably don’t have as good of a team. I’m still giving the same level of instruction. But a good team needs to be humbled at times; a bad team needs to be built up.”

Do you coach differently in the playoffs?

“Early in my coaching career, my philosophy was not to punish guys for making the playoffs. Don’t make practice overly hard. Give them mental stuff and allow them to enjoy the process. We never played as hard as we needed to, and we would lose. Midway through my career, I changed it. The more we win, the harder and more detailed I expect practices to be. They’re more willing to lock into those things. No matter how hard you are on a good team, you can never break their spirit. Because the minute they walk off the field, guys are patting them on the backs.”

How can a team sustain excellence?

“I think it’s cute when guys who haven’t won championships talk about winning championships. Everybody expects that it will eventually just happen. I was at a school that wasn’t very good. Within three years, we got to the national championship. The next year, we had 100 people watching practice. I’d come off the field, and they’d have suggestions. None of them had ever been there when we were getting good. Now they criticism. They thought they knew how to make it. Believe in yourself.”

North America’s Leader in Championship Rings

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