Enterprise staff writer
One reason many coaches give for retiring is wanting to spend more time with their family, though itÕs often debated as to whether thatÕs actually the truth.
When discussing his decision to step down after the 2010-11 season Ñ which was announced today Ñ UC Davis womenÕs basketball coach Sandy Simpson said family truly is the sole reason.
ÒIn my case, it really is (the reason), and I want to spend more time with my family,Ó Simpson said. ÒI think over the course of the summer I started to think about (retirement) a little more. Summer you get to spend a little more time with your family and I started to realize I was missing a lot of things.
ÒI miss a lot of activities that (my kids) are involved in during the course of the season. After 32, getting into my 33rd year (of coaching), I came to realize that itÕs time to spend more time with family.Ó
Simpson will remain on the Aggie bench for the upcoming year, his 14th at the helm, but will then give way to associate head coach Jen Gross. The 54-year-old Simpson is a UCD alum, having graduated in 1981, owns a 227-144 career record and led the school to a third-place finish in the NCAA Division II Elite Eight tournament in his first year.
Gross was a senior during SimpsonÕs first year in charge and returned to her alma mater to begin coaching for the 2004-05 season. After graduating, she played professionally for two years and was inducted into the Cal Aggie Athletics Hall of Fame in 2003.
The Aggies are coming off a 21-11 season, which was capped off by their first Big West regular season championship and a trip to their second conference tournament title game in three years. They also earned their second WomenÕs National Invitational Tournament bid in just three years of Division I eligibility.
UCD is losing just two players from last yearÕs squad Ñ Haylee Donaghe and Ashley Curry Ñ while Paige Mintun and Heidi Heintz will be the only seniors this season. Simpson, who let the team know last week, said he enjoys coaching as much as he ever did and that his full focus remains on the team.
ÒIÕm not retiring yet,Ó Simpson said. ÒI still have one more year here and weÕre really excited about this team. IÕm going to enjoy it and want to get this done for Heidi and Paige.Ó
For Gross, who will be the seventh coach in school history, SimpsonÕs retirement brings mixed emotions.
Simpson was an assistant coach during GrossÕ playing days and she has spent six more years coaching under Simpson. But at the same time, Gross knew Simpson wasnÕt going to coach forever and said getting the chance to lead the Aggies was her ultimate goal.
ÒThis is my dream job,Ó Gross said. ÒFor me to even have the opportunity to be the head coach of this program is something IÕve always thought about and hoped for. Until (Simpson) spoke to me in the summer, it was always in the future but not a reality.Ó
Notes: Simpson said heÕll still be around and will attend as many Aggie games as possible. He added that he hopes to continue to teach golf and is interested in lecturing as well, potentially in a sports sociology and history class. … Simpson has the most wins of any Aggie coach, though he also has the most losses. … Simpson lives in Dixon with his wife Chris and their three kids Olivia (13), Sebastian (10) and Ingra (6). … Last year was UCDÕs first 20-win season since it went 25-4 in 1998-99.
Ñ Reach Conor Tekautz at [email protected] or (530) 747-8049. Comment on this story or check out The Enterprise sports blog at www.davisenterprise.com