Success is a Process: CCS’s Coach of the Year Jamie Jimison


Connor Creedon, Contributing Writer

Collaborating with a group and working together for a common goal takes dedication, companionship and a unique mix of drive and passion. Head coaching is a position that requires the best at all times, with constant adjustments working to craft the best plan of action. The 2022 cross-country season for Piedmont University proved to be a time when history would be made. In the newly formed Collegiate Conference of the South, the head coach of the Lions, Coach Jamie Jimison, was named the first “Coach of the Year” from the conference based on his teams’ performances at the championship race on Oct. 29, 2022. The most prominent reason for this much-deserved honor was the first-place finish for the women’s program, which became Jimison’s first cross-country championship since arriving at Piedmont in 2019.

As the announcement over the loudspeaker was made, marking the first CCS championship in history as a win for the Lions, Jimison felt “greatly satisfied with the hard work the entire program has contributed all year long.” The record-setting performance from first-place finisher Jaycie Ponce and a young freshman base “showed fight and never gave in to when things got tough.” 

The 2022 season as a whole for both programs met lots of individual accomplishments as well. Many personal records from previous years were broken by individuals, these including seniors Darius Smith, Jacob Balot, Leeann Lawrence and Cole Elrod. Young talent like Jadon Gonzales, Layton Bradford and Tucker Cox on the men’s team was also met by Anna Gibson, Skyler Seebler and Imani Vincent on the women’s, that played vital roles in scoring points all year. 

A process like this doesn’t just start up overnight and grants results in a matter of moments. As a year-round cross country and track and field coach in Division III athletics, the coaching season takes some time off during the summer after conditioning plans for endurance athletes have been carefully formulated and sent out to the team. 

“I try to understand the needs of each person on the team and write the program that is considerate of the conditions,” says Jimison, which is based on a speed or endurance background and method of body operation. 

Athletes use the training all summer to build up the strength and endurance needed when the semester begins and meets appear on the calendar. From here, coaching begins the year-round cycle of managing practice and scheduling races, transportation, athletic training appointments and much more that may seem like small pieces of a big picture. Still, they all play a role in making things run smoothly (no pun intended).

While the CCS Cross Country Coach of the Year award was given out for the first time as a new conference, Jimison has experience being considered the best. During the spring semester of 2021, Jimison was named the USA South Conference Track & Field Coach of the Year as both men’s and women’s Piedmont teams won the overall conference championship for the first time in three years. 

“The best part of that experience was seeing both teams run well and step up. Everyone grew significantly throughout the season, and it showed at the right moments,” said a proud Jimison.

This experience bode perfectly for the 2022 NCAA Cross Country South Region race, which took place on November 12, two weeks after the CCS Championships. The women’s program went on to impress again, placing ninth in the overall standings as a team, which became the highest team finish at a Region meet in Piedmont history. With a stellar performance in the NCAA South Region, senior women’s captain Jaycie Ponce earned the honor of competing in the NCAA Division III National Championship meet. Ponce competed as Jimison’s second women’s runner in two years to do so, the first being then-senior Val Angel in 2021. 

“Coach is aware of what each person is capable of doing, and he also knows how to get the most out of you, which tends to make you even better than you thought you were,” said Ponce of the role Jimison plays in the lives of his athletes. 

It is clear that for Jimison, winning Coach of the Year at the conference championship doesn’t mean the job is over. New heights can always be worked towards.

Coach Jamison observes Track & Field players PHOTO//Troy Weinman

As the fall semester winds to a close, track & field conditioning for Piedmont student athletes picks up into action as January will include some of the first indoor track meets of 2023 for the Lions. With expectations high and knowing what every aspect of the team is capable of, Piedmont would like to consider themselves favorites to win the first CCS Championship in track & field. 

“From what I’ve seen over the years, our team is as strong as ever in all the areas needed to get the job done. Everyone is working hard and prepping up for an exciting spring,” says Chris Donsereaux, a senior sprinter and long jumper for the Lions. 

Jimison and assistant coaches Remel Williams and Brian Gawne look towards the future for hopeful success and continued growth for the program. Season after season, raising the bar continuously is no easy task, but Jimison is motivated to keep doing what works for the team he knows so well.

 “We want to win as many conference championships as possible in cross country and track & field. We also want to keep sending athletes to national championships and, eventually, teams as a whole,” says Jimison 

So much has been accomplished in just the four years Coach Jamie Jimison has been in Demorest, and the sights are still set high on goals that drive this Lions program to be great every day.