On Friday, officials at East Ridge High School announced that Tim James would become the new head football coach for the Pioneers.
James, 52, will succeed Tracy Malone, who resigned his position after last season.
“I’m doing back flips,” James said during a phone interview. “I’m coming home.”
James said he was honored that he was considered for the job and selected as the best candidate, and “appreciated the confidence Ms. Helton has placed in me.”
East Ridge Principal Tammy Helton said she hired James not only because of his previous experience as a head football coach, but his “great love for kids.”
“He’s part of our community and is invested in the school,” she said. “It’s important to him.”
James graduated from East Ridge in 1982 and attended the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga for a year before entering military service. He served in the U.S. Army from 1983-86, then returned to UTC and got his degree. He did his post-graduate studies at Tennessee Tech.
James, the son of legendary East Ridge coach Raymond James, whom the football stadium is named, did a stint as the Pioneer head football coach from 2001 to 2007, compiling an overall record of 47-32. His best season was his first, as he lead East Ridge to a region championship with a 9-1 regular-season record and advanced to the second round of the TSSAA playoffs.
James left East Ridge to become Heritage High School’s first football coach. In six years there, he amassed a 14-46 record.
The naming of a prominent alumnus has pleased many in our city.
Bobby Hudgens, the President of the East Ridge Alumni & Supporters Association said naming James the new head coach was “not just good for the school but good for East Ridge as a whole.”
“Tim and his family are loved dearly,” Hudgens said. “I’ve known him since the early 1970s when I played for Raymond and (Tim) was running around. He grew up living and breathing East Ridge football.”
Hudgens said James had been involved with the alumni association from the very beginning and has attended virtually every meeting the organization has held.
“The timing on this couldn’t be any better,” he said.
James said there are many challenges that face the program. The alumni association’s efforts to raise money to build ancillary facilities at the new stadium is one. He said he will meet with the football team on Monday.
James said he really never saw himself as being a head football coach again. But after becoming involved with the burgeoning alumni association and the good people involved with it, he said he saw “a little renaissance in the program last year.”
“It appeals to me,” James said. “The stadium being named after my dad and all, I want to come back and do what I can to make it great for the kids and for East Ridge.”