Grim's reality

Thursday, January 25, 2007
Notre Dame head coach Jerry Grim talked to his basketball team during a recent game. The Bulldogs have a big week with a game against Jackson tonight and then a game Saturday evening when the school will mark Jerry Grim Day to acknowledge his 25 seasons as the coach of the program. (Fred Lynch)

Jerry Grim has recorded 433 wins, led his teams to five state championship games, won one title and is a member of Notre Dame's Hall of Fame.

For all of his success and accolades in 25 years at the helm of Notre Dame's girls basketball team, Grim is happy to deflect the credit.

Grim is simply content to be part of the Notre Dame family.

"I've had some great kids to work with, and the administration has been very supportive," Grim said. "I guess I've just managed not to screw too many people up that bad."

Added Grim: "What makes a good coach is good players."

Notre Dame coach Jerry Grim shouted to his players during a win against Poplar Bluff on Jan. 15. (Fred Lynch)

The Bulldogs (10-6) will host Jackson at 7:30 p.m. tonight. On Saturday, Notre Dame will celebrate Jerry Grim Day in honor of Grim's 25th season as head coach. Grim will be honored as the Bulldogs host Mary Institute/Country Day School with a 3:30 p.m. junior varsity start prior to the varsity game.

"He's such a remarkable human being," Notre Dame principal Brother David Migliorino said. "He gives 150 percent of his time and life to this school. The kids love him, and he loves the kids. He's what every coach should be. He leads by example."

The celebration could have some added meaning, as Grim said it is a "possibility" this could be his last season. If in fact Grim does retire at the end of the season, it would mark the end of the longest current tenure with a single team throughout the area.

Grim's 24-plus seasons have been marked with success. During his first 24 seasons on the bench, the Bulldogs have experienced just two losing seasons, both coming in the past decade. With a career record of 433-224, the Bulldogs have won nearly 66 percent of their games under Grim.

"In 25 years, we've had two losing seasons, and one of those was 1998 and I had probably one of the best players I had play for me," Grim said. "I'm proud of that because that shows the determination and work ethic of the kids. We haven't always had the best athletes, but we've had kids willing to work hard."

Notre Dame reached the pinnacle of success in the 2001-02 season, capturing its lone state title in Class 2A. It was the second of three straight championship appearances for Notre Dame.

The Bulldogs also made the championship game in 1995 and 1997. Notre Dame has won 10 district titles, all under Grim, and won eight straight from 1997 to 2004.

"That was great," Grim said of the state title. "That's the only one we've had in girls athletics. But the one [season] after that, we moved up two classes and still made the championship going in Class 4. That right there was pretty special. Nobody expected us to be there, but the kids just bowed their backs and we made it."

During his tenure, Notre Dame has churned out numerous collegiate basketball players. Grim estimated a dozen or so. His impact on his players off the court cannot likely be measured as easily.

"I think it's his whole philosophy of life," Migliorino said of Grim's success. "He doesn't sweat the small stuff. He always has the kids' best interest at heart. Winning is nice, but he really is a teacher on the court."

A lot has changed for Notre Dame over the last 25 years. New sports have been added, and more importantly, the school moved to its new location on Highway K west of Interstate 55. Grim has worn many hats during his time at Notre Dame, including boys freshmen basketball coach, softball coach and golf coach, the last of which he still holds. Grim actually helped start the softball program in 1976 and coached the team for 23 years.

"It grows and improves every year," Grim said of the school. "There's just no comparison to when I started. Not only the gymnasium, but the whole place."

In 2001, Grim was inducted into the Notre Dame Hall of Fame. Since that time, Grim has added more than 100 wins to his total and sits 15th all-time for girls basketball coaches in Missouri according to the Missouri State High School Activities Association records book. Of the 14 coaches ahead of him, only five have recorded all their wins with one program.

"You get into a place you love to work and love the people you work with," Grim said, "and it's easy to work 25 years."

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