A high school coach is not measured by the number of trophies he or she collects in a dusty case. Success is sweet, that goes without saying, but the difference between a good coach and a great coach is passion.
A great coach exudes a passion for the sport, athletes and life.
And there is no doubt former Waxahachie golf coach Jimmy Lofland checked all three boxes.
It is well documented that Lofland was an avid golfer, but he was not a lifetime golfer. In fact, his wife of 48 years, Billie Lofland, said it was not until he began coaching football at Malakoff High School that he picked up the game.
“Of course we didn't have a golf course, but we had a swimming pool and that was about it that there was for the kids to do. But, now not during football season because he didn't have time, but he would go to the football field when he was learning to play golf and hit balls every afternoon. All of the sudden golf was a passion. He loved it,” Billie Lofland said. "Jimmy bought me a set of clubs when he first started because he thought I should play too. I don't know when he thought I was going to have time to play because we had two little girls at that time and I never did play. Of course, he wasn't very good at that time, but I noticed the more he played he didn't ask me to go anymore.
“He loved it, of course, he loved football, too, but he really loved golf and he enjoyed all of those kids. Every team was special to him, they really were. He really enjoyed them all. […] He always tried real hard to keep up with all of those kids and from time to time some of them would come back and visit him and he just really enjoyed that.”
When Jimmy made the move to join the Waxahachie coaching staff in 1968, Billie said she remembered that even when the hours became long his spirit never faltered.
“You know, he never complained. The hours were really long and he would watch those films … Now I don’t know what coaches do, but I know it was very late. He put in long hours and did not complain. There were challenges along the way, but he really loved it.
“He was happy and loved what he did and I loved him, so, therefore, I wanted him to do what he wanted to do. But he was gone lots of times. When I retired I would go to those golf tournaments and walk or ride right alongside him, and I got almost as attached to those kids as he was.”
During his 29 years in Waxahachie, there was absolutely successes celebrated, as Lofland coached several teams and individuals to the area and state tournaments. Although he never said it publicly, Billie thought the first trip was just a little bit sweeter.
“I know that they went to state several times, but the first time he had a team qualify for the state tournament I do remember that he was very excited. Of course, he was excited every time, so don’t misunderstand me,” she joked, “but the first time may have been a bit more fun. Jimmy really did care about those boys and all the boys. He really did.”
When coach Lofland passed away on July 2, 2007, Billie said she realized then just how many lives he touched during his time with WISD. She also said this award would be one that her husband cherished, although did not necessarily feel he deserved.
“I don’t think that you can find a better community to live in, I really don’t. Everybody here is so caring. I just can’t say enough about the people that live here,” Billie said. “When Jimmy was sick, there were people who I didn’t even realize knew we existed who came to visit. The good people here outweigh the bad.
“I think he would be completely surprised that he was even considered for any award. […] He liked what he did and he did the best he could do, but it was his job. That was what he was supposed to do.
“I guess he...," said Lofland with a smile and a heartfelt gaze back down memory lane. "We have just had a lot of fun over the years."