The Griffin-Spalding County Board of Education unanimously approved Sinkfield’s appointment during Tuesday’s meeting, making him the third Bears’ head coach in the more than 20 years.
“It’s a great joy for me,” Sinkfield said. “Just being here at my Alma mater its a dream come true.”
Sinkfield becomes the first person to play for and be the head coach of the boys basketball team at Griffin High School. A 1989 graduate, he played on the Bears’ first state championship team in 1988.
“He was a winner when he was here,” Griffin athletic director Jamie Cassady said. “He knows the community and the expectations of the community. ... We just thought it was a good fit.”
Sinkfield’s promotion ends a more than two month search for former head coach Ferris Qualls’ replacement. Qualls announced his retirement on March 27, ending his 14-year reign as the Bears’ coach.
Cassady said he originally received more than 55 applications for the position. A four-person committee of Cassady, head football coach Steve DeVoursney, head girls basketball coach June Barrow and Harvey Booker narrowed down the search to seven candidates. After meeting with Griffin High principal Janet Curtis, the list of candidates again was narrowed to two.
Sinkfield said he was informed of his new position on Friday, and he held a team meeting on Tuesday to tell his players of the school’s decision.
“We have a great group of kids coming back,” he said. “We built a great foundation and now we’re going try to carry it on with these kids.”
An assistant coach under Qualls the past two seasons, Sinkfield said the team will continue to focus on many of the same principles instilled by the former coach while adding some of his own coaching philosophies.
“Ferris Qualls is a great, excellent coach and a great motivator. We’re going to continue (Qualls’ style) and add some things that I like,” he said. “I’m going to bring some excitement. We’re going to try to have a faster pace but still rely on the same principles — defense and ball control — so that we can dictate the outcome of the game.”
In addition to the two years as Griffin’s assistant coach, Sinkfield has had numerous prior coaching jobs. He coached at Odessa College in Texas, Georgia Southern on two occasions, Jacksonville University, Sandy Creek High School and Spalding High School.
Sinkfield now faces the challenge of following Qualls, who in his 14 years as Griffin’s head coach, led the Bears to a 257-131 record and the 2003 state championship.
“We expect him to pick up where we left off,” Cassady said. “Griffin basketball has a strong tradition, and we expect him to keep that tradition going.”
Despite the pressure of following in the footsteps of Qualls and James Martin, who coached Griffin for eight seasons from 1985-93, Sinkfield said he is eager to lead his team on the court next season.
“Following two great men in Ferris Qualls and James Martin — that’s a lot for a young guy like myself to do, but I’m up for the challenge,” he said.