Editors Note: The UNC Asheville Athletics Communications Office will once again be profiling former Bulldog student-athletes and what they are doing now. If you know of a former student-athlete you would like to be profiled, please email Mike Gore at firstname.lastname@example.org. Today we start with one of the first female student-athletes to ever receive a scholarship at UNC Asheville - Myra Sims.
One of UNC Asheville's first ever female student-athletes to receive an athletic scholarship is now one of the first female Director of Athletics in collegiate athletics.
Myra Sims visited UNC Asheville for the first time in her senior year of high school with her parents as she visited the school from her hometown of Hiltons, Virginia.
"I wanted to play basketball. Tom Cochran was coaching the women's basketball team and contacted me about playing for UNC Asheville," admitted Sims. "My parents and I drove to Asheville one day unannounced, hoping to see Dr. Cochran.
"Well, Dr. Cochran wasn't in, but we were lucky enough to meet with Coach Hartman (UNC Asheville's basketball coach and Athletics' Director at the time)," added Sims. "Coach Hartman couldn't have been nicer. He was quite gracious and gave us a tour of the campus, and I knew I wanted to come to Asheville."
Myra would get one of the first athletics scholarships for a woman from Dr. Cochran and play for him two years and two years for Barbara Quinn. She played for the Bulldogs in the early days of women's sports, not just at UNC Asheville but across the nation. Myra would play hoops for the Bulldogs from 1976-80.
"It was such a different era back then," stated Sims. "However, I was extremely appreciative of the scholarship I received. It allowed me to go to a great school like UNC Asheville and get an outstanding education."
Basketball was not the only sport at which Sims would excel at for the Bulldogs. She joined the volleyball program and played from 1978 through the 1981 season.
Myra graduated from UNC Asheville in 1981 and she decided to stay in Asheville.
"I really enjoyed Asheville and wanted to stay around," explained Sims. "I helped coach volleyball with Ted Vanos in the spring of 1982 and then he left. Ed Harris, who was our athletic director, asked me to be the head coach of the volleyball program.
"I started coaching volleyball and then when Helen Carroll came in to be head coach in basketball, she asked me to be her assistant," added Sims. "This wasn't what I planned but it worked out just great for me."
Myra led the Bulldog volleyball program to successful seasons while she coached. It was a unique experience.
"That was an interesting time to be coaching as I was coaching people I played with," explained Sims. "There were a lot of challenges but I worked through it. It's also helped me later in my career to always lend a hand to a young coach. There's so much to learn and it can be overwhelming. I appreciated some veteran coaches helping me at that time and I always want to be there for them."
Myra got a chance to be a part of something incredible in 1984 when the women's basketball team won the NAIA National Championship, led by All-American center Sheila Ford.
"You never forget winning a national championship," declared Sims. "That team worked so hard and was so together. It's easily one of the most memorable experiences of my life."
After winning that championship, Myra left Asheville and moved to Atlanta. She worked in real estate and had some other jobs but the lure of coaching lured her back onto the court.
"I was living in Atlanta and I saw where Emory University had an opening for a head coach in volleyball," said Sims. "I applied and was fortunate to be selected."
And soon she was not only coaching volleyball, Myra was selected to be the head coach of the women's basketball program. From 1988 to 2003, Sims served as head coach of the Eagle basketball program, amassing a total of 204 victories and guiding her team to two national Sweet 16 berths.
She decided to move into athletic administration in 2003.
"I really enjoyed coaching, especially at the Division III level," said Sims. "But in 2003, I thought it was time to get into administration.
"I was able to progress over the years from assistant athletics' director to an associate's role."
Sims did a great job at Emory in administration. One of her biggest roles was serving as the Athletic Department's liaison for major construction projects, including a $15 million expansion of the university's Physical Education Center.
She finally got a chance to be her own boss in 2010 when she was selected as the Director of Athletics at NCAA Division III member Emory & Henry in Emory, Va. The job is a homecoming for Sims as her home town of Hiltons is not too far away.
In getting her job, Myra remains one of the few female athletics directors in collegiate administration.
"I'm thrilled to be at Emory & Henry," stated Sims. "This is a great fit in so many ways.
"I'm back home and close to family," said Sims. "I really like the school and what it stands for. There's work to do here but we're making progress. We have good coaches who work hard, just like at UNC Asheville.
"I can't begin to think where I might be without that scholarship from UNC Asheville," commented Sims.