By Bob Snell
Sean FitzSimons is going home.
After coaching boys basketball at Virgin Valley High School for 14 years – the past five as the Bulldogs head coach – FitzSimons is stepping down and returning to his alma mater, Lincoln County High School.
FitzSimons, who has taught health, English and physical education at Charles A. Hughes Middle School and VVHS the past 16 years, deliberated long and hard before finally deciding the offer to return home was too good to pass up.
“The offer came out of nowhere,” FitzSimons said. “I owed it to myself to look into it. After taking a look it seemed to be a good move for me and my family. It was a hard decision to leave. Everything just lined up at the right moment.”
Family was a big factor in the decision to leave. His parents still live in Caliente. The four-day school week in the Lincoln County School District also helped.
“I’ve got a built-in family support network in Caliente,” FitzSimons said. “This is best for me and my family right now. I won’t lie, it’s exciting to come back and coach at your alma mater. It won’t be easy, but I’m looking forward to the challenge.”
FitzSimons, who prepped at Lincoln County from 1992-96 and played for Hall of Fame coach Rick Phillips, will become the third head coach in the last three years at LCHS. Phillips was head coach for 25 years.
The Lynx are coming off a 4-19 campaign, which means FitzSimons will have his work cut out for him.
“I’m excited about the challenge of trying to get basketball back to being a winning program again,” FitzSimons said. “Lincoln’s sports teams have been very successful and the fans are very passionate and supportive.”
FitzSimons is looking forward with mixed emotions to Jan. 13 of next season when his Lincoln County Lynx travel to Mesquite to play his former team in Virgin Valley High School’s new basketball palace currently being built on campus.
“It’s going to feel weird,” FitzSimons said. “I’ll be coming back as the enemy.”
Virgin Valley went 20-9 this past season and finished in second place in the Sunrise Conference. The Bulldogs defeated Western in the first round of the 3-A South Regional tournament before falling to eventual state runner-up Cheyenne in the semifinals.
In his five years as head coach, FitzSimons and his staff made the program respectable. Always playing a tough preseason schedule and playing the larger 4A schools from Las Vegas helped make the Bulldogs better prepared for league play.
“We, my staff and I, ran a program that held the kids accountable, preached team concepts and instilled in them to be coachable,” FitzSimons said. “Those are the cornerstones of my coaching philosophy. At the end of the day the kids knew I loved them and cared about them.”
FitzSimons hopes whoever takes over the program at Virgin Valley will keep the program respectable.
“I hope for the best for Virgin Valley,” he said. “We’ve left the program in better shape than when we took over.”
After six years as a varsity assistant to Rich Bohne, FitzSimons took over the reins as Bulldog head coach for the 2013 season. Virgin Valley went 77-53 in his five years at the helm of the Bulldogs and was voted conference Coach of the Year by his peers in both 2014 and 2015.
Before becoming varsity assistant, FitzSimons coached the boys B team for three seasons and was the girls B coach for two years before joining the boys program. He also was varsity assistant for boys soccer and coached football, baseball and volleyball.
“I’m thankful for all the opportunities I’ve had in Mesquite,” FitzSimons said. “I’ve appreciated all the support from the community and the administration.”