Friday, July 25, 2014

Coach Crim

Perhaps one of the most difficult moments in Kent Crim's life was when he stepped down as the boys' basketball coach at West Davidson.

It was about the only time I ever saw him perturbed, outside of the occasional bonehead call by a referee.

Kent Crim shows off his 200th victory basketball.
It was 1990 and Crim was already in the fourth year of his Parkinson's Disease diagnosis — a 28-year struggle that would gradually envelop and consume him until he died last Saturday at the age of 69.

Crim cited "widening" philosophical differences between him and the school administration over the direction of a team that had gone 235-194 over 17 seasons, including an appearance in the state championship game in 1984 which resulted in a heartbreaking 73-68 loss to Hobbton.

But the team was 61-83 over Crim's last six years and I think even Crim knew it was time for a change — even though his son, Jonathan, was coming up through the system and Crim wanted a chance to coach his son.

But it never happened.

"The bottom line is that we haven't won in the last few years," said Crim in a story in The Dispatch. "And if a coach lacks passion and enthusiasm, and it's no longer fun, then it's best to get out of it."

Life sometimes can take some unfair detours and I guess what matters is how we negotiate those sharp, sudden curves. Crim, armed with a practical intelligence and a wry sense of humor, was well-equipped for the journey. I knew him not only as a friend, but as an English-teaching coach and guidance counselor who would occasionally quote Shakespeare, or Faulkner, or Fitzgerald after a game. That was certainly different.

Even in the story announcing his resignation as coach, Crim couldn't resist: "I don't think you'll find anybody, anywhere, who treated his players better than I did," said Crim. "If Kent Crim has one fault, it's like Othello, who loved not wisely, but too well."

See what I mean?

I was sports editor of the paper at the time and I was always on the lookout for qualified correspondents to help us cover games. Crim seemed like a logical choice and he readily accepted. Although the Parkinson's prevented him from using a keyboard — he would dictate the copy to his wife, Jane, who would type the story on the computer for publication. The two of them together, with sometimes opposing views of what happened in the game, resulted in some memorable evenings at The Dispatch office (humorously, Jane was petrified of computers) — he actually did a pretty good job for us.

For some reason, life kept being unfair to Crim. He lost Jane to cancer 10 years ago, when she was just 58. Meanwhile, his Parkinson's got progressively worse and he closed out his years at Alston Brook nursing facility, surrounded by old friends, and new ones.

I wrote a column about Crim after West Davidson christened its basketball floor as "Crim Court" in 2008, and I ended it with a quote from Hamlet.

I tried searching for another acceptable quote for this blog, but nothing is better for the moment than the one I used back then:

"He was a man, take him for all in all,
"I shall not look upon his like again."
                   - Hamlet, Act 1, Scene 2


  1. Thanks Bruce. Well done. Kent Crim was an absolutely terrific man.

  2. Though it is 3 years since this was written, I enjoyed rereading it. Thank you for your friendship with my parents. It still means a lot!