At some point, UMBC coach Don Zimmerman will consider retiring and riding into the sunset. But even he isn't sure when that will happen.
“I enjoy coming to work every day, and I think this job is certainly challenging,” the 61-year-old Zimmerman said Monday morning, days after the university announced agreeing to a two-year contract extension with Zimmerman that will keep him with the Retrievers through the 2016 season. “I’m excited for the challenges, and I’m going to keep going as long as UMBC wants me. I feel as though I’ve still got plenty of gas in the tank. I feel as though as the years go by, I’m actually getting better at what I do because I’m learning more. There’s an old saying that the more you teach, the more you learn, and it’s really true. I’ve been doing this for a long time, but I jokingly say that one of these days, I’ll get it right. I’m happy to come here every day and work with my guys and my staff and the people and the game of lacrosse.”
Zimmerman, who ranks eighth in wins among active Division I coaches with 228 victories, will enter his 22nd season at UMBC and his 29th overall. Only Delaware’s Bob Shillinglaw (entering his 40th year), Virginia’s Dom Starsia (33rd), Duke’s John Danowski (33rd), Denver’s Bill Tierney (31st) and Bryant’s Mike Pressler (31st) have enjoyed longer coaching careers than Zimmerman and Notre Dame’s Kevin Corrigan, who will also coach in his 29th season.
Zimmerman, who said negotiations with Retrievers athletic director Tim Hall began about six months ago, said he caught the coaching bug while serving as the junior varsity coach at Cardinal Gibbons High School. Even now, Zimmerman said he enjoys coming to the office.
“This job is anything but a grind,” he said. “I’m one of those fortunate people who enjoy coming to work every day. UMBC is a great place to work. It’s the people I deal with – the administration, the people around campus and in particular, my staff and my players. I think it’s just a wonderful way to spend your vocation, to be here and to be associated with great people.”
While he would have preferred a longer extension, Zimmerman said he is not considering coaching elsewhere.
“This is my final stop for coaching and I made that commitment six years ago, and that commitment has not changed,” he said, referring to the six-year deal he signed in 2008. “I’m happy to be a Retriever, and I’m excited about this year and the future, and that’s what I’m thinking and that’s what I’m feeling.”