Farewell to Coach Anderson


South guidance counselor Jim Anderson retired in May. Anderson taught in the Middletown school district for 33 years, broken up into 29 at Thompson Middle school, and 4 at South, being a teacher, a guidance counselor, and coach. I had the advantage of a last name early in the alphabet, allowing me to have Anderson as my guidance counselor in 6th and 7th grade, until he went to South.

Anderson has had many jobs in schools in his career–teaching, coaching, guidance. He has a fondness for each experience. When I asked about teaching, he told me he was a physical education and health teacher before he was a counselor for middle school.  “I really liked setting up schedules and tournaments when I taught at the Middle School. At Thompson kids were always eager and prepared for class and anxious to compete. It was a neat place,” he said. He told me South employees, “Ms. Smith, Ms. Turiello, and Ms. Sogluizzo” were former students of his. Anderson seems to have an affinity for working in middle school. He liked to coach at the middle school level because of the “innocence of the players.” He liked it so much because he felt it was more than just coaching, it included his other passion–teaching: “Kids were taking everything in and I hoped that I could carry it onto the upper levels.”

When he moved to South to coach high school, the experience was very different. Anderson expressed a level of stress and pressure he hadn’t when he was coaching younger kids. He told me he “had multiple runs as the varsity Hoops Coach at South and one of our major goals was to overachieve and we were able to do that in most of my years.” I asked about his greatest coaching accomplishments, to which he said, “coaching both my boys was something I will always cherish. Oh yeah – beating CBA twice in one season is still high on the list.” The competitive nature was a change for Anderson, but it fueled a different experience coaching, leading to a greater reward. 

Similarly to coaching, while working in guidance, Anderson prioritized having a solid relationship with students. Having a good relationship with students made him feel confident to help them get into the college they wanted–not one they felt they had to go to. He further explains he “wanted to establish a rapport with the student so he/she could come to me if there was a problem. Simply said, trust.” This relationship of trust has carried over for many years. When I asked what MAnderson liked most about working in the Middletown district he revealed it is the connections he has made with students and staff members alike. “Yesterday I played golf with three of my former players and the stories and laughs were endless. know the effect I had on these kids (now men) and they are now passing it onto the next generation -their own kids or teams that they coach,” he explained.

Anderson has been spending his time as a retiree lavishly: “I golf 4/5 days a week.  I do yoga and read the NY Post every day.  I run 20 miles a week.  My wife and I go out to dinner more regularly.  I am fortunate my college age sons are still around and they caddy for me and I still watch them play basketball. My youngest son James plays for Drew University.  I was in Florida for 4 weeks after retirement and am looking to set up a second home there. I may even write a book.”  He has big plans and intends to continue to help people, as he has his entire career.