For the second time this week, a Christian County school district entrusted a powerful basketball program to a coach starting their first high school head coaching job.
And once again, the veteran outgoing coach has endorsed the appointment.
Just like former Ozark boys coach Steve Hunter did Monday with Mark Schweitzer, outgoing Nixa girls basketball coach Jim Middleton praised the choice of his replacement: assistant Jennifer Perryman.
“She has been loyal, trustworthy, an advocate, a sounding board, and she has provided me with some advice and wisdom,” Middleton said. “She has worked hard and earned that right because of her hard work and her talent to take over the reins. We’ve got a lot of talent coming back.
“I think it’s a great situation for her. She knows the players and knows the talent. I’ve been fortunate to have a lot of good assistants. (I) think that she’ll fall along with that just fine.”
Middleton stepped down Friday after five years with the Lady Eagles, which included a state championship in 2008-09 and ended with a Class 5 state quarterfinal run this year.
The veteran coach would not say he was hanging up the basketball whistle for good, though. He confirmed he would stay at Nixa next year as a teacher and also as the school’s girls track and field coach.
Middleton went 100-39 in his five years. He was previously a head coach at Southwest Baptist University for 14 years. He coached at then-Southwest Missouri State under coach Cheryl Burnett with the women’s baskeball program, and also coached at West Plains.
The 1979 Nixa graduate said the time at his alma mater was everything he’d hoped.
“It has been and it is wonderful,” he said. “It’s a great relationship. I’m very pleased with how it started and how it continued to this very day.”
It continues with Perryman, who has been at Nixa for nine years, under Randy Towe for four before Middleton came to Nixa.
Perryman, a 2000 Kickapoo graduate who played for Sue Schuble, is an Evangel graduate who started her coaching career during her college days at Evangel University, where she played on the golf team.
She inherits a talented group that will return three starters from a team that finished 24-6.
“It’s been a very surreal day,” Perryman said. “I talked to all the members of the administration today and I’m extremely humbled by their support and the faith they’ve put in me. I understand this is a big job and a cherished job. But I’ve had some great people mentoring me and teaching me along the way.
“I don’t take this lightly.”
Perryman also will remain as Nixa’s girls golf coach.