Photo: Southside High girls basketball coach Kim Nails holds a ceremonial ball after winning her 600th game during the 2019-20 season. (Messenger file photo by Gary Wells)
By Chris McCarthy, Publisher/Editor
After 31 years and 620 wins, Kim Nails is hanging up her clipboard and whistle.
The former Gadsden High School girls and Gadsden State women’s basketball coach and current Southside High School girls basketball coach announced her retirement earlier this week. She will continue to teach and coach cross country at SHS.
“It’s hard for me to wrap my mind around it, because basketball has been such an integral part of my life for as long as I can remember,” said Nails, who was inducted into the Etowah County Sports Hall of Fame in 2013. “The Lord has given me the opportunity to work with a lot of kids, and I hope I’ve had a positive impact on some of them. I’ve been very blessed that multiple people invested a lot of time and energy on my behalf over the years, and I got into coaching to share that investment with other kids. The relationships that I’ve formed and the opportunity to impact people’s lives in more ways than the game of basketball is the most meaningful thing I’ll take away.”
Nails coached the Southside girls to a 214-159 record from 2007-08 to 2021-22. Her teams won five area championships and twice qualified for the Northeast Regional Tournament. The 2017-18 Lady Panthers won the program’s first-ever Etowah County Schools Tournament championship.
“Basketball taught me a lot about life in how to work hard, how to be driven to be the best that I could be and have the passion for what you do,” she said. “My desire as a coach was to try to instill those same traits in others. Basketball also gave me the opportunity to point people to Christ.”
At Gadsden State from 2001 to 2007, Nails went 147-46 while winning consecutive Alabama Community College Conference titles in 2002-2003 and 2003-2004. The Lady Cardinals competed in the National Junior College Athletic Association National Tournament both of those seasons. Nails was named ACCC Coach of the Year 2001-2002, 2002-2003 and 2003-2004 and selected NJCAA District Coach of the Year in 2002-2003 and 2003-2004.
At Gadsden High from 1990-2001, Nails guided the Lady Tigers to a 257-76 record along with eight area titles, four Northeast Regional Tournament championships, five AHSAA state tournament appearances and four AHSAA Final Four appearances. Gadsden finished the 1997-98 season as the Class 5A state runner-up. Nails was the head coach of the first-ever girls North All-Star basketball team in 1997. She won that game as well as another as the North girls head coach.
“At all three schools, I was blessed with so many great girls and worked with so many great people,” said Nails. “I’ve also been blessed that I got to do it so close to home. ‘
A 1988 graduate of Glencoe High School, Nails started for four seasons at point guard on the basketball team and was selected to the All-Etowah County and all-area teams for four years. She was named all-state for two years. She also lettered in volleyball, tennis and track for the Lady Yellow Jackets.
After earning a basketball scholarship to Jacksonville State, Nails lettered as a point guard for four years. She was a member of the All-Gulf South Conference Academic Team for three seasons and an NCAA Division II Academic All-American for two years. She was the Gamecocks’ team captain on the first JSU women’s team to make the NCAS Division II National Tournament.
Combining her high school and college records, Nails averaged just shy of 20 wins per season at 19.97.
“I look at it more as sharing what I know with the kids more than the wins and losses, which take care of themselves,” said Nails. “Over the years, [wins and losses] may be forgotten, but the impact you have on someone’s life will never be diminished.”