Don Zimmerman’s 23rd season at UMBC is also the last year of a two-year contract extension that the head coach signed in Oct. 2014. But Zimmerman, 63, said he hasn’t considered stepping away just yet.
“My wife and I have talked about retirement, but what am I going to do?” he asked rhetorically. “There may be some other things out there for me, but right now, I like what I’m doing. I’ve really enjoyed working with this UMBC team this year. We’re excited about the season. I still enjoy getting into the car and coming to work every day. If I feel like maybe the game is passing me by, I’ll be the first to say, ‘OK, it may be time for me to move on.’ But I don’t feel that way. So as far as I’m concerned, it’s still full speed ahead.”
Zimmerman enters this spring ranked eighth among active Division I coaches in victories, compiling 233 wins against 161 losses in 30 seasons at Johns Hopkins and UMBC.
Zimmerman is also one of the longest-tenured coaches, trailing only Delaware’s Bob Shillinglaw (entering his 41st year), Virginia’s Dom Starsia (34th), Duke’s John Danowski (34th), Denver’s Bill Tierney (32nd) and Bryant’s Mike Pressler (32nd).
The Jan. 20 death of Maryland coach Bud Beardmore – whom Zimmerman played against as a midfielder for the Blue Jays – struck Zimmerman. But he said he has felt a determination to continue to be involved in a sport that has been his calling as a youth and as an adult.
“It’s a wonderful profession,” he said. “You get to make an impact on young men, and you get to coach against some terrific men and leaders. What a great environment to be a part of. It doesn’t matter what your walk of life is. At some point, your health declines, and I think being a coach in this sport has helped me to stay young physically and more importantly, mentally. When you’re dealing with college-aged kids all the time, you have to think the way they think and it keeps you stay young at heart. Being young at heart is a good thing. I’ve never thought twice about staying involved in coaching. To me, it’s a passion, and it’s something that I hope to do for many years to come.”
Zimmerman said there has been some discussion between the university and him to remain as coach beyond the 2016 campaign, but nothing is set in stone. For now, Zimmerman is content to enjoy the present rather than worry about the future.
“I love it here,” he said. “I’ve been here for 22 years, and I’d love to keep going.”