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Eastern Iowa high school sports coach Paul James retires after coaching 75 seasons

Published: Dec. 23, 2020 at 9:16 AM CST
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Playing for legendary coach Pat Mitchell at Cedar Falls high school Paul James learned more than just X’s and O’s.

“He was what you would call now a player’s coach,” Paul James said of Pat Mitchell. “He got to know his players very well. That was probably a big thing I’ve learned from those guys. I still have great relationships with former players.”

It’s the relationships with players that coach James has really enjoyed in his 38-year coaching career. One of his former wide receivers at Washington, Adrian Arrington, who went on to star at Michigan and won a Super Bowl ring with the Saints, joined his coaching staff at Linn-Mar.

“Just being able to coach with him and see how his experiences could be conveyed to the players here at Linn-Mar and how they looked up to him,” James said. “It is just gratifying.”

James had a lot of success at Washington leading the Warriors to two state title appearances in 2003 and 2014.

“The game is actually broadcasting on ESPN,” James recalled. “We were 39-9 in those four years. It was just great kids is what it came down to. A bunch of hard workers. Getting to the finals. Some of those kids have gone on to play college football and get try-outs for the pros.”

James also a ton of success on the basketball court coaching the Washington girls basketball team for 24 years winning 343 games and leading the Warriors to state titles in 88 and 95.

“Girls had tended to be more receptive to coaching,” he said. “1988, when we won the first title, we finished third in the conference. That was kind of a surreal experience.”

Paul has coached several NFL players, Super Bowl champs, and even an NCAA Division 1 championship coach in Brenda Frese at Maryland. But what he always loved about coaching was the key to their success.

“You know hopefully it’s kind of been because they have enjoyed experiences along the way, and maybe you had a small part and taking that part in life,” James said. “It is gratifying.”

After taking a break from coaching the 66-year-old James took over the Linn-Mar football coaching job for four years, leading the Lions to a district title and playoff appearance in 2019.

Coming out to Linn-Mar was the chance to kind of start from scratch, bring in my philosophies and X’s & O’s, get positive footing with Linn-Mar football again,” he said. “I think that was one thing that we accomplished.”

When you count all the sports, James has coached a remarkable 75 different seasons, and there’s no doubt about his key to success. It’s the same thing it takes to succeed in life.

“Mold them into a cohesive group, feeling close-nit, so they understand that one player depends on the other,” he said. “It’s not going out as individuals, it is working together as a team.”

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