The word coach has many different meanings throughout life, differing from person to person. The focus can be on sports, on life, on support, or on teaching, but it takes someone special to be able to combine all those definitions into one – all while instilling the love of the game and imparting strong values. These three individuals have shown the standout characteristics it takes to be called coaches of excellence.
Baseball, Basketball, Flag Football
When Jim Bussell isn’t working as a firefighter and paramedic at the Rapid City Fire Department, he gives his time to people around him. Jim serves as captain and paramedic at Rapid Valley Volunteer Fire Department and coaches many sports in town. He holds the current position of Rushmore Little League president while coaching his own team, and also coaches basketball, and flag football.
The coaching all started after Jim completed school. Playing college football, running track, and playing baseball and basketball – Jim missed the constant energy athletics provided and began coaching flag football for a Rapid City Parks and Recreation team.
“Coaching and teaching have always been a passion,” Jim said, “so it was kind of a natural fit. And once I had kids – it just took off.”
“[He] puts all his heart into coaching and genuinely cares about each player on his team,” agree Wendy and Tim Kelley, parents to one of Jim’s athletes. “He encourages his players to respect themselves, respect their teammates, and respect their opponents.”
These life lessons not only affect his own players he coaches, but opponents and parents, as well. Jim took the time to work with another coach and help one of his players who was hit by a pitch regain his confidence in the batter’s box. The next game, the player faced his fear and stepped up to the plate hitting the ball.
“The whole crowd cheered, regardless of team affiliation,” said Tara Wilcox, an athlete’s mom. Being a part of moments like this is what it’s about.
Jim’s passion lies in helping others,” said his wife Tausha. “He always puts others’ needs before his own and is an incredible stand-up human being.”
“A lot of days when I go to work, my job is to clean up the mess,” said Jim. “We don’t get a lot of opportunity to be proactive. Coaching is one of those chances where I can make a difference.”
Jim has been working diligently to grow the baseball program, not only in Rapid City – but also throughout the state of South Dakota. Working with coaches on Pine Ridge Reservation in Wounded Knee, Jim has been involved with getting their baseball program off the ground. He is also taking steps to have Wounded Knee sanctioned and a part of the Rushmore Little League.
“The time and energy Jim gives to baseball reaches far beyond [coaching] his son,” said Treasurer of the Rushmore Little League Marcy Morrison. “He’s making baseball better for RLL, Rapid City, and South Dakota.”
A coach of excellence is more than a person teaching fundamentals of a game. They’re someone who carries passion for others and is motivated to make a difference in other’s lives. Jim is that coach. He cares for his team and helps them succeed not only on the field and on the court, but he shows his athletes, coworkers, and family what it means to commit, be loyal, and give your time selflessly.
Being involved with sports all of her life, Sherry Grismer knows what athletes go through and is there to make a difference in their lives.
“[The sport] is about relationships and people and being together,” said Sherry. “But, [for me] it’s all about the kids and I want them to have the best possible experience that they can have.”
“In all that we do, Coach Grismer continuously reinforces hard work, communication, respect, faith, and mental toughness,” explains SWAT athlete Mackenzie Erickson. “[All of which] will take us further in life than the fundamentals of the game we all love.”
Beginning as a student coach in college, Sherry became close with her Augustana athletes and coaches. As time went one, she kept in touch and continues to volunteer her time over spring break to help coach at the college’s tournament in Florida – learning tips and tricks to bring back to her own teams.
Sherry has been coaching softball for over a decade with the support of her husband and two children. She has taken strides to grow the love of the game in South Dakota, organizing multiple camps and clinics for girls to learn the basics while coaching them to be the best player they can be.
“Sherry has always been about what is best for kids,” said Augustana’s Head Softball Coach Gretta Melsted. “She is our players’ biggest fan and [they] look forward to her coming every year.”
Leaving her players with inspirational messages that extends farther than the field, Sherry’s goal is to “create both awesome players and exceptional people”, according to her daughter and athlete Abby Grismer.
“I just love the games and the sports that I coach,” said Sherry. “I love the kids, and I want them to be able to experience everything and have it all, just like I was able to as a kid.”
Whether players are facing challenges in their personal lives or during the game, they know they can turn to Sherry for support and advice – and that is what makes her a coach of excellence.
After years away from the mats, William Morrison stepped up to coaching after taking his oldest son to practice day after day. Within a few years, he has embraced the title and has become a coach of excellence building more opportunities for children who share the love of wrestling in the Black Hills.
William and his wife Marcy have three sons – which have all been coached by their dad.
“Every kid should be involved with at least one sport,” said William. “Just to learn how to work with other kids, be teammates, learn how to have a work ethic, it’s just very social, and it’s good for kids to be a part of something.”
When he isn’t at work, William is volunteering as an Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) coach for younger children, all while coaching his son’s middle school team, and helping run AAU and high school tournaments.
“William recognized that the Black Hills has a large pool of wrestling talent,” says Marcy. “[So] he has sought out nationally-recognized wrestling clinicians and developed a summer wrestling camp so that kids and their parents don’t have to travel several hours away.”
With a strong passion for the sport, William makes it a point to cultivate relationships with coaches, refs, and athletes across the region to better his athlete’s knowledge.
“I’m not out for everyone to be a state champion,” said William, “But [the goal is] to get the best performance [they] can give.”
Written by Jenna Carda
Photos by Legacy Photo and Design