Snider High School has made a hire to take over their girls basketball program. Snider graduate Akilah Sims, one of the top players in program history will take over for the 2020-2021 season. Sims will come to Snider directly from an assistant coach role at Purdue Fort Wayne.
Sims, who is now a teacher in the business department at Snider, was approved by the school board at the August 24 meeting according to online records. Sims is teaching marketing and preparing for college and careers.
She is replacing Gregory Addison, who coached the Panthers for two seasons. She will be the fifth head coach for Snider over 10 seasons. The Panthers last had a winning record in 2016-2017.
“It means everything to me. For some time now, it has been a dream to one, coach, but what better thing to do than come back home and try to do our best to lead them back to victory,” Sims said.
The staff at Snider will be filled out by longtime Snider assistant Art Gregory, former Panther standout Deja Wimby and Quila Hedgecock.
Sims starred for the Panthers as a senior during the 2011-2012 season, averaging 23 points and 12.2 rebounds per game as an Indiana All-Star and the winner of the Tiffany Gooden Award, given to the best player in the Summit Athletic Conference regardless of gender. She was also a state qualifier in track three times during her high school career. After high school, she played four seasons at IUPUI and averaged a career best 11.3 points and 5.9 rebounds as a senior.
Sims hopes that her pedigree at Snider will help lend to bringing the program back up the ranks of the conference.
“We talk to the girls every single day. We preach hard work and effort. That cannot be coach and that is one thing being here and playing here that we always went by,” Sims said. “We wanted to outwork our opponent every opportunity that we got and that is the same thing we teach today. It is also nice that we were successful while I was here and I am able to speak on that.”
Sims went on to play for Peli-Karhut of the Finnish Korisliiga Women’s League overseas where she won the 2018 league championship after averaging 18.2 points and 9.7 rebounds in 37 games. There she was a two-time league First Team selection. After playing, she joined the staff at Purdue Fort Wayne in 2018 and has spent the last two seasons on that staff.
“This was kind of the perfect landing spot,” Sims said of her move to Snider from PFW. “I was not, at any time, looking for a job when I was at Purdue Fort Wayne. I was just trying to learn, grow and develop while I was there and it just kind of came to me.”
Snider will look to rebuild with a star transfer, a solid number of returning players and an intriguing freshman class. The top three scorers from last season’s 5-18 team graduated but senior Nehkai Boone and juniors Jaiden Eastom and Samantha Kabisch all saw quality minutes last season. They will be joined by Northrop transfer Destiny Jackson, who will be one of the best returning players in the Summit Athletic Conference. Jackson averaged 11.8 points, 9.4 rebounds and 2.3 steals per game last season for Northrop and has spent the past two seasons as one of the best interior defenders in the entire area.
Freshman-to-be Jordyn Poole, a point guard, is expected to be one of the best ninth graders in the city next season; she will be joined in the freshman class by Joh’nea Donahue, who has garnered attention this summer for her high motor, and Destiny Craig.
“It is exciting, every day is a new challenge for us. We do a lot of teaching, but right now we are just trying to get them in shape. A lot of our girls are playing fall sports so I haven’t actually had the opportunity to be in contact with a lot of the players I will have on varsity,” Sims said. “These girls, they care and that is what is most important. They want to get better so it is really exciting to have a group of girls like that.”
The program’s last Sectional title was in 2015, their fifth such title over six seasons.