Jim Tate came to St. Paul’s in 1978 as the boy’s varsity basketball coach. He began the school’s cross-country and track program for boys following 9 years of head coaching and athletic administration from schools in South Carolina and Georgia. Since 1983, his boys and girls teams have claimed 88 separate state team championships in track and cross-country combined and another 39 state team runner-up finishes. Coach Tate’s latest two state titles were the recent Boys and Girls 5-A Indoor State Championships in early February. His girl’s cross-country teams hold the current national record for the longest consecutive state championship streak in the nation at 16 championships from 1983-1998.
Coach Tate holds Level II track certification in endurance training and was selected as the National Federation of Interscholastic Coaches Association’s (NFICA) Boys Cross-Country Coach of the Year in 1998. In 2010 he was selected by the National High School Coaches Association (NHSCA) as the National High School Girls Track & Field Coach of the Year. He was officially accepted into the Mobile Sports Hall of Fame in April of 2008, and prior to that in 2000 he was inducted into the Christ Church Episcopal School Athletic Hall of Fame. In March, 2011 he was welcomed into the Alabama High School Athletic Association’s (AHSAA) Athletic Hall of Fame and that summer he was selected the National High School Girls Track & Field Coach of the Year by USA Track & Field (USATF)/Gill Athletics.
Around 50 of Coach Tate’s former high school track program athletes have competed in either track and/or cross-country at the collegiate level, with 27 of those at Division 1 institutions. In October 2010, St. Paul’s School dedicated the ‘Jim Tate Track & Cross-Country Field House’ at the track complex of the school; it is a $400K facility to serve as home base for the school’s track and cross-country program.
According to Senior Lacey Dent, “Coach Tate has been a wonderful coach. He is not a micromanager, and he allows every coach to do their job. He is understanding of injuries and has every athlete’s best interest at heart. If I had not come to St. Paul’s my seventh grade year to run track, I really do not think I would be as successful as I am now. Coach Tate, along with the other coaches, has developed my talent.” She continued to say, “He always makes the team smile and puts so much time and effort into making us better and making sure that we are equipped with what we need for meets. I love Coach Tate, and I really don’t know what I would do without him. He has been a supporter of mine for six years now and I am sad that our track experience has to end. I will miss him.”
Lacey’s words highlight how Coach Tate engages, inspires, and prepares his student athletes to perform well. Coach Tate also encourages his student athletes to show respect and sportsmanship toward others and commends them for it after every meet. He truly is an inspiration as a coach and a mentor to St. Paul’s students.