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Father, son help North to two state crowns

Photo by Brandon Brigman

Photo by Brandon Brigman

Sometimes it's hard to tell if Kim and Evan Wimpey are father-son or just best friends.

"You want to talk to the good-looking one first," Kim joked.

"Man, my arms are huge from flexing," Evan replied to his dad.

The constant one-line jokes make them sound more like old college buddies and not father and son, who happen to be assistant coaches on North Gwinnett's girls cross country and soccer teams.

"The way we are now, that's how it almost always is," Evan said. "It's light banter. It's fun. We get along well and he's as immature as I am."

The duo already enjoyed being around one another, but the 2009-10 school year was an even more special one for the Wimpeys. It was the first and maybe only time the two will ever coach together.

To make it even sweeter, North Gwinnett won Class AAAAA state championships in both sports they coached together.

"We get along real well, we do a lot of stuff together, we're good friends, but to be able to share something I've worked so long and so hard on my whole career and to have him be a part of it (was special)," Kim said.

"The downside is he said 'Dad, why did this take you so long? It's pretty easy. I did two my first years.'"

Kim has coached for 25 years, which includes varsity football, boys soccer, girls soccer and cross country at North. He's led teams to postseason berths and has received coach of the year honors, but this season was a little better. His only son Evan was on the sideline with him as North claimed the cross country state title in November and again last month when the soccer team won state.

"If this is what all the years are like, I'll be coaching for awhile," Evan said with a smile.

A 2008 graduate of Georgia Tech, Evan has aspirations to be a pilot in the Marines and it's doubtful he'll be at North after this school year. He wasn't able to get into aviator school last fall, so he took a substitute job at his alma mater.

After helping the cross country team to its first state crown in November, he found out there were still no spots available for him in the Marines. Evan continued to substitute at North as the JV boys soccer coach and assistant girls varsity coach.

"I will say that in soccer he had the best sideline decorum of any coach, any new coach I've seen," Kim said. "I would say he got that from me, but I was never like that."

This spring was the first time Kim and Evan were on the same soccer sideline since Kim coached Evan as a freshman at North Gwinnett. Evan gave up soccer the next three years to focus on track and field and Kim stopped coaching so he could watch his son at track meets.

With 25 years of coaching experience, it was no surprise who Evan went to with questions or concerns on coaching techniques or how to interact with the players.

"He was there for answers when I had questions, but it wasn't an overbearing you're doing this wrong or you need to change it up," Evan said. "It's tough because I'm sure I did some things wrong."

"I had to bite my tongue," Kim responded with a laugh.

Evan has plenty of memories from when he was growing up and his dad was coaching. Like the time he was the water boy for North's football team against Buford in the mid-1990s and he met future Super Bowl winner Tim Wansley.

"He was running down the sideline and little, stupid Evan wasn't paying attention and was rocked out on the track," Evan said. "He picked up the water bottle and drank out of it and didn't give it back to me. He just threw it on the ground."

That's the funny story Evan has to tell first. The more endearing one was from a game when he played on a under-13 soccer team and his dad was the coach. Evan gave up the game-winning goal and was yelled at by Kim from the sidelines, making the car ride home a little uneasy.

"My dad is really calm and says to me, 'I'm really sorry I yelled this on the field, this is what I meant and it was a very calm teaching moment," Evan said. "I feel like with everybody he coached, he had a good relationship with who he coached and tried to make the teaching points to get through to them.

"It definitely worked with me. Well, it didn't make me any good," Evan said with a laugh. "It made me like him."

Kim, 56, is not only popular with the athletes he's coached, but also his students. The science teacher has been named the school's teacher of the year and received STAR teacher recognition three times.

"Watching my dad growing up with all of his students, athletes and the kids just love him," Evan said. "Every year in his class, scores of kids come back from college and professional life to thank him for teaching. I'm just another one of those he's helped mold. I just happen to be his son."

Mark Karen witnessed Kim and Evan's relationship first hand this season. The head coach for the girls cross country and soccer teams, Karen was there for the coaching points they shared and of course the witty comments.

"They are very similar," Karen said. "They are very analytical and intellectual, but they understand the complexity of their sports. They rarely disagree."

Except when it comes to giving each other a hard time, because the witty banter never ends.

"You wanna know what I'm getting him for Father's Day?," Evan asks.

"I hope it's Sirius radio," Kim interjects.

"Well, I was going to get you a motorcycle," Evan said with a smile.