TAMPA - Eric Sims said he was ready to step away from coaching high school soccer after his 12th season at Gaither ended in February. A married father of one, Sims said he chose to focus on his duties as a club coach and assistant coach at the University of Tampa, leaving the high school sidelines.
However, the chance to return to his alma mater Jesuit was something Sims said he just couldn’t pass up. The Tigers named Eric Sims as their boys coach Tuesday, and Sims addressed his players in a meeting after school.
“I was done with high school the week after our season (at Gaither) was over,” Sims said. “I have a son and a wife and I was going to concentrate on UT, but I always said this is where I wanted to coach if it was ever available.”
“It was one of the greatest times of my life when I went to Jesuit and I definitely couldn’t pass this opportunity up.”
Sims, a 1995 Jesuit graduate, was a standout in three sports (baseball, football and soccer) before playing at the the University of Tampa. He is a member of both the Jesuit and UT athletic halls of fame.
Sims replaces longtime Jesuit coach Bob Bauman, who stepped down in August to pursue a campaign for a Circuit Court judgeship. Bauman won three state titles and reached the state playoffs 24 times in 26 seasons leading the Tigers. Sims, who helped Bauman capture a state title, said it will be a tough challenge replacing his old coach.
“They are definitely big shoes to fill. He’s a legend,” Sims said. “It’ll be a tough task, but I’m definitely looking forward to it.”
Sims takes over with 12 years of head coaching experience at Gaither, including three state final four appearances and 10 playoff berths.
Sims is also the executive director of the Tampa Bay United Soccer Club. He was a standout goalkeeper for UT, helping the Spartans win three Sunshine State Conference titles and make two elite eight appearances. While a member of the baseball team, Sims helped UT capture the 1998 NCAA Division II national championship and was inducted into the Spartans’ Hall of Fame in 2012.