Veteran coach Jim Arnold has resigned as boys basketball coach at Chattanooga Christian School after seven seasons to devote more time to administrative responsibilities and his family.
Arnold, 42, had a 102-107 record in his seven seasons with the Chargers and appeared in five region tournaments, including a trip to the 2009 championship where they lost to Brainerd. That same season the Chargers finished second to Howard in the District 6-AA title game.
“This has been a discussion between my wife (Nikki) and me for a couple of years,” Arnold said. “I just wasn’t ready to pull the trigger. We had a great year this year and I enjoyed the kids and coaching basketball.
“It became clearer to me as the season went along that this might be my last year. I came to a peace about that probably in the last month.”
John Visser, the CCS athletic director who retired as baseball coach after the 2013 season, said Arnold will be missed in terms of athletics. Arnold, however, will remain as the middle school principal.
“Jim is a great tactician of the game and brought a tremendous upside to our boys program,” Visser said. “I worked with him as an assistant this season and enjoyed my time with him. I respect that he feels like it’s time to step away.”
The Chargers went 15-16 overall this season and 6-4 in District 7-AA. The defeated Grundy County (40-23) in the district tournament before losing to Signal Mountain (49-45) in the semifinals and dropping a 46-27 decision to Notre Dame in the consolation game.
Chattanooga Christian traveled to Upperman for the Region 4-AA quarterfinals and lost 42-37 to end their season.
The Chargers’ 2010-11 season ended with a loss to Upperman in the region quarterfinals.
In 2008-09, CCS reached the district title game and lost to perennial championship contender Howard, 60-40. In region tourney play, the Chargers beat McMinn Central, 63-50, and lost to Brainerd, 56-51, in the quarterfinals.
In Arnold’s first year (2007-08) as head coach after serving two years as the junior varsity coach, CCS came up short against East Ridge, 67-63, in the District 6-AA consolation game and then fell to McMinn Central, 76-61, in the Region 3-AA quarterfinals.
Arnold was twice named district coach of the year.
Arnold’s son, Brandon, is a sophomore at Covenant College and his playing schedule conflicts frequently with the Chargers’ games and limits the times his father can watch him play. That factored into Arnold’s decision to resign.
“That certainly wasn’t the biggest consideration,” Arnold said. “With film and web feeds, you can see what you missed. This year my wife got to three or four more of Brandon’s games than I did. Brandon loves playing at Covenant and it would be wonderful to have the flexibility to catch those games.”
The Arnolds also have a daughter, Brooke, who is a senior at Ridgeland High School.
Can Arnold envision a return to coaching in the future?
“I love basketball and it’s been a big part of my life,” he said, “and when I learned life lessons from basketball’s successes and failures, the game became an even more fulfilling thing to do. But the amount of energy, passion and emotion it takes to coach to the best of my ability, is really difficult.
“I know today that there can be more important things to do and sustaining my responsibilities as an administrator and family man is also important. I believe I might enjoy the idea of being a basketball fan. It would be great on some Friday nights to take in a great high school basketball game when Brandon doesn’t have a game.”
So, did Arnold leave the door ajar to make a return?
“I have no plans to do that,” he said, “but I wouldn’t rule it out just because of my love for the game.”
Arnold, originally from Winchester, Va., played basketball for two years at Geneva College in Beaver Falls, Pa., before finishing up with two years as a starter and team captain at Bryan College in Dayton, Tenn. He was ranked second nationally in assists during his senior season.
In an ironic twist, Arnold played in two national tournaments in 1990 and – get this – 1998.
“I went to Geneva right out of high school,” Arnold said. “After two years there I transferred and became a Christian. I was married with children and eventually went back to college and graduated when I was 26. I was one of the older players in NAIA.”
After finishing college, Arnold coached boys’ basketball at Orangewood Christian School in Orlando, Fla. He left Orangewood to coach women’s basketball at Bryan for one year, guiding the women’s team to a 27-9 record.
College coaching and recruiting didn’t mix well with Arnold and his family.
So, he returned to Orangewood and stayed there through 2004. He went back to Winchester for a year before arriving at Chattanooga Christian in 2005 as the high school assistant principal.
(E-mail Larry Fleming at email@example.com)