For the third time in a four-year span, the La Cañada High football team will begin anew.
Two-year coach James Sims, who arrived on campus in March of 2013 after leaving Florida’s Arlington Country Day, will not return for the 2014 season.
A tweet sent by the La Cañada High athletic department on Dec. 6 read, “LCHS has decided to not renew the contract of head football coach James Sims.”
La Cañada High assistant principal Jared Gold confirmed that Sims’ contract was not picked up for a third year, but did not go into detail as to why.
“We don’t have too much to comment on. We appreciate James Sims’ time with the school,” Gold said. “His contract was not renewed.”
Sims said that administrators tried to contact him in the days leading up to Thanksgiving before he was given the option to resign on Dec. 2.
“I wasn’t going to quit on my kids, on my team,” Sims said. “I would have rather been fired.”
Sims posted a 7-14 record in his stint, which was somewhat skewed by the Spartans’ 2-8 mark in 2012. In 2013, La Cañada finished the regular season 5-5 and third in the Rio Hondo League, the team’s highest finish in league since 2010.
Subsequently, the Spartans qualified to the postseason for the first time in three years and lost in the first round, 54-3, at Paraclete, the eventual divisional runner-up.
“What coach do you bring in for only two years and let go, especially after he qualified the team to the playoffs for the first time in three years?” Sims said. “I didn’t have a chance to continue to develop the freshmen and sophomores that I’ve been working with since I got here. It’s sad because this was a personal issue and not a professional issue.”
When asked to explain what he meant by personal issue, Sims claimed parental influence swayed the decision made by La Cañada administrators to let him go.
“There’s a few parents at that school who are running the show. One parent was upset because I didn’t play her son even though he missed four days of practice,” Sims said. “I wish whoever takes over luck because they’re going to need it with a few of those parents.”
Perhaps the biggest point of contention surrounded Sims leaving practice early. Sims, a walk-on coach, said he needed the time to commute to Los Angeles Southwest College, where he was an adjunct professor and a physical education facilities worker.
“I didn’t have a full-time job at the school and I had to make money to eat, to live,” Sims said. “I would leave practice early, yes, but it absolutely did not affect the team.
“Remember this, when we started the year 2-0, nobody was complaining about me leaving practice. It wasn’t even an issue. We lose three games in a row and all of sudden it’s a really big deal.”
While the Spartans did finish with six losses, each setback came to either a league champion or runner-up, while those teams combined for a 59-15 record.
“I want to say one thing, though, to clarify. Other than this experience, I had a wonderful time in La Cañada and was thrilled to have worked with so many positive people and good parents,” Sims said. “I had some parents write letters in support and others have passed me personal messages. It’s nice to know that I was appreciated by some.”