Jinx Cockerham, the longtime Father Ryan coach and an influential figure in Midstate high school volleyball, announced her retirement Monday.
“It is a very difficult decision, that’s for sure,” she said. “But it is the right one.”
A coach and teacher at Father Ryan for the past 46 years, Cockerham is calling it quits at the top of her game. Last month she led the Lady Irish to their fifth state championship.
They did it in impressive fashion. Swept by Briarcrest just three days earlier, Father Ryan rebounded to capture a four-set victory over the Lady Saints in the Division II-AA title match.
“I believe the program is in a really good place right now,” Cockerham said. “I think with the seven seniors leaving and the group coming in it would be a good time for someone else to put their stamp on it.”
Cockerham started at Father Ryan as a basketball coach, before volleyball came to Midstate high schools. She retires with five state volleyball titles and 10 runner-up finishes.
“We’re excited for her, but it’s a big loss for us,” Father Ryan athletic director Pat Lawson said. “We have no qualms with that. She’s earned the right to make that decision. She has established quite a legacy here.”
The search for Cockerham’s replacement will begin immediately, Lawson said.
“This is the first time we’ve ever had to hire a volleyball coach. She started the program here. We’ll put a committee together and see what interest we’ll draw,” he said. “We hate to lose someone who has been so committed their entire career, but she has the chance to go out with a state title. That’s special. We’re excited for her and her family.”
While Cockerham is hanging up her volleyball whistle, she has yet to decide if she will continue teaching, but he will finish out this school year.
She intends to be in the stands next season to support the Lady Irish.
“I will be there,” Cockerham said. “There’s a bright future and it’s going to be a good few years coming up.”
Reach Sam Brown at 615-259-8232 and on Twitter @SamBrownTN.