MORGANTON – Clint Zimmerman on Monday got the endorsement of — and an opportunity from — the man he’s worked so closely with to maintain the tradition in boys’ basketball at Freedom High.
The Burke County Schools announced in a press release that Casey Rogers, Freedom’s new principal, has selected Zimmerman to replace him as head coach of the Patriots.
Zimmerman, a former Freedom basketball and baseball player who graduated in 2003, has been Rogers’ assistant coach with the boys’ team.
Rogers resigned after 13 seasons to become principal at his alma mater.
“Coach Zimmerman is a natural choice to lead the (boys) basketball team here at Freedom and to continue on with the great tradition that is Freedom basketball,” Rogers said in the press release.
“I am excited about him taking the helm.
“He has a great vision for the program and a passion for students to succeed on and off the court.”
Zimmerman has been at Freedom for 11 years, teaching and coaching there are playing after playing basketball and baseball at Roanoke College. He is a history major.
Zimmerman has also been Freedom’s head baseball coach since 2010 and will continue in that job.
“The easiest part about this transition is the culture has already been established,” Zimmerman — who met with Freedom’s players — said in the press release. “We have a great group of returners that know what being a part of this program means.
“Our expectations are pretty simple: be on time, be prepared, never criticize a teammate and represent Freedom on and off the court.”
Freedom went 28-3 last season and is 100-18 over the previous four seasons. The Patriots went 283-86 in 13 seasons under Rogers, winning five conference titles and a state title in 2013-14.
Zimmerman is only the fourth head coach in boys’ varsity basketball at Freedom, following Casey’s dad (Terry), Joey Davis and Casey Rogers.
Before accepting his new job, Zimmerman said he talked with his wife, Becca, and the Freedom coaching staff.
“My first reaction was to talk with my wife and make sure this was something that would be good for our family, for me her support and her thoughts and concerns were the most important factor in the whole process,” he said. “My next reaction was to reach out to Coach (Adam) Shade, Coach (Rob) Noyes, and Coach (Rob) Scott and make sure that those guys were going to stay on board. They all do such a great job and make such a difference in the program.
“I think Coach Rogers will be the first one to tell you that we couldn’t have accomplished the things we have over the years without them.”
Rogers, was named principal on May 31 and moved quickly to get a new head boys’ basketball coach.
Zimmerman said he learned a lot from working under Casey Rogers and looks forward to continuing the tradition of Freedom boys’ basketball.
“I have been very fortunate to work for Coach Rogers; he has poured so much of himself into this program and all the young men that have come through over the past 13 years,” Zimmerman said. “Working under someone that has been as successful as he has been and continues to be teaches you a lot about the importance of organization, preparation and developing relationships with the young men in the locker room.
“But honestly, I think the most important lesson that I have learned as a player and as a coach is the Freedom basketball program is not and has never been about one person, it’s much bigger than that.
“‘Patriot Pride’ is a real, tangible thing that was created 45-plus years ago and something that we will continue to build upon.”
Last season, Zimmerman guided Freedom to its best season in baseball win-wise (15-11) since 2000, and the Patriots posted their first back-to-back winning seasons since 1999-2000.
Freedom is 69-157 in 10 seasons with Zimmerman as head baseball coach.