Eric Sims, who led Jesuit to its first state title in boys soccer since 2001, was named the Florida Dairy Farmers Class 5A coach of the year. The winners in each classification were selected by a panel of high school boys soccer coaches and reporters.
Sims won a state title with the Tigers as a player in 1995. He went on to coach at Gaither for 12 seasons before returning to lead his alma mater in 2013.
In 19 seasons coaching soccer in Hillsborough County, Sims has an overall record of 355-80-33 (154-28-9 at Jesuit and 201-62-24 at Gaither) and has guided those programs to a combined six state semifinal appearances.
This season was perhaps Sims greatest coaching job, not only for winning his first state title but also for the way in which the Tigers captured that elusive championship.
Jesuit graduated 14 seniors from last season’s team, a squad Sims said was the most talented ever had at the school. The Tigers returned just three players who had significant playing time from a year ago: seniors Zach Board, Lucas Gobea and Robin Tionko.
Board tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his knee nearly a year ago and did not return until January. The North Florida-bound forward came on at the end of the season and had three goals, including the winner, in the state final. Carson Bien also played a pivotal role, scoring a team-leading 28 goals, including 11 that were game-winners.
Besides Sims, the Tigers also received more accolades with Bien selected as the 5A state player of the year.
The pieces all came together. As Jesuit kept winning, Sims reminded his players of the state title he won as a senior. Sims coaxed them. He pushed them.
It all worked. The Tigers ended years of frustration by winning it all. Their accomplishment was recognized throughout the area, including a video from the Rowdies.
Sims has been awarded for it, too.