For Bill Kimrey, the past three years of retirement couldn’t measure up to his 29 years of coaching high school football.
Now he’s back on the sideline — just a bit further down the road.
“Playing golf every day is not that great when you retire at 55, because all your friends are still at work,” said Kimrey, a former head coach at Dutch Fork. “You wake up every day and wonder what’s gonna be on Oprah.”
Last month, Kimrey left retirement to become coach at Calhoun County in St. Matthews. He replaces Walt Wilson, who resigned.
Kimrey was coach and athletics director when he retired from Dutch Fork in 2009. The Silver Foxes posted a 110-106 record during his tenure, making an appearance in the third round of the Class 4A Division I playoffs in 1994. But the team struggled toward the end, finishing 2-9 each of his last two seasons.
Kimrey, 59, returns to his old profession without having to be bothered by the responsibilities of being an athletics director.
Kimrey never left football, spending the past three years as an assistant coach for his son, Erik, at Hammond School.
But assistant coaching wasn’t the same as leading a team, something his son acknowledged.
“When you have the amount of passion that my dad has for the game of football, you love to be creative and shape and fashion a team,” said Erik Kimrey, a former South Carolina quarterback who played under his father at Dutch Fork. “That burden was on my shoulders as a head coach, and I think that’s the part he missed the most.”
Calhoun County superintendent Steve Wilson said the school interviewed several coaches before selecting the elder Kimrey.
“His energy and enthusiasm, his experience, is going to offer the kids something in the way of teaching football so we can remain competitive on the football field,” Wilson said.
Kimrey was in his element recently, overseeing his new team’s training and conditioning.
Barbells clanged in the blue archery range, which is functioning as the team’s temporary weight room until the school builds a planned field house by the stadium. Out on the practice field, Kimrey directed his players to spots on the field as they ran no-contact drills, shouting out scenarios as the players responded to their imagined opponents.
Kimrey said he is still learning names after he was hired late in the year and had eight days of spring practice. The Saints are training three days per week until full-contact practices begin in August.
With fewer than 500 students, Calhoun County is significantly smaller than Dutch Fork, one of the largest high schools in the state with nearly 2,000 students.
But Kimrey said coaching in a one high school town such as St. Matthews appealed to him.
Already, he said, he finds himself waking up at 2 or 3 in the morning to write down new plays.
“Every team’s different; it has a different personality,” he said. “It’s not like you’re doing the same thing over and over.”
The Saints struggled last year, finishing 1-9, and the team faces a touch schedule this year, its final season at 2A before moving down to A in 2014. Despite low expectations for the team, senior Joseph Glover, who hopes to lead the Saints this year at starting quarterback, expressed confidence about the team’s prospects under Kimrey.
“We’ve got talent,” he said. “We can outdo what everybody says.”
Kimrey admits it will take time for the players to learn his new system, but he said the team is laying a foundation for years to come. He also hinted that Calhoun County could be his final stop.
“I feel like I have some good years left,” he says, “And I want to spend those with the kids and the community.”