If you’ve ever been to an Eddie Kirby coached North Sand Mountain basketball game, you’ve heard those words booming from his mouth.
He coaches hard, always instructing, always encouraging, sometimes admonishing. But those words are staples in his game vocabulary, and I’ve covered enough of his games that I can hear them in my mind still, all with his tone and volume.
Kirby is a “one of a kind”, both on the sideline and in life in general. He’s an NSM legend.
“The Good Lord broke the mold when He made [Kirby]” said former NSM head basketball coach Glen Hicks. “He’s been a really good friend and colleague. We’ve been like brothers. Like brothers, we’ve been cross ways with each other a time or two but we’ve fought for each other, too. He’s been a very important part of my life.”
The story of Kirby’s life is faith, family and NSM. He’s been around NSM hoops for three decades. Kirby is a fixture on the Jackson County and Sand Mountain basketball scene and is a beloved figure. But after three decades coaching basketball, Kirby, NSM’s varsity boys head coach the past seven seasons, has officially retired from coaching basketball.
“Will I miss it? Yes,” Kirby said, before adding “I’m ready to be a fan.”
Players, opposing coaches and fans love him. Go into a hospitality room at a tournament and you typically see a number of coaches gathered around him, listening to one of Kirby’s many and hilarious stories.
One story that is often untold is that of Kirby’s tenure as NSM’s head football coach from 1999-2002. Glancing at his 3-37 career record won’t tell you the impact he had on the program. But numerous people credit Kirby with saving the program from shutting down during the 2001 season. Now a football program that nearly folded a decade and a half ago has been to the playoffs in five of the last six seasons.
Kirby will continue to teach and coach track and field at NSM. But next basketball season will be different without Kirby stalking the sidelines. All I can say to that is “here we go.”