Chris Tibbits stood in the middle of a nine-person interview committee, facing a white board that included a hypothetical play. The game - in this situation, a chance at a Class 5A job - was on the line.

And it felt good.

After three years off from head-coaching responsibilities, Tibbits was named the boys basketball coach at St. James on Monday. He set himself apart from the other candidates with more than a decade of high-quality experience, but also that session with the committee that eventually led to the unanimous decision that he was the right person for the job.

“That’s kind of one of my strengths, knowledge of plays and defenses. I love to talk basketball with people,” Tibbits said. “That part of the interview, someone says ‘Give me your best last-second play,’ those things have to be able to come to your mind right away.”

Tibbits, 47, relocated to the Grand Strand in 2017, first teaching middle school social studies before moving to St. James High School for this school year. He held various assistant coaching jobs in football and basketball in that brief span.

However, he had long since cut his teeth running a program.

He was the girls coach at Cowanesque Valley (Pennsylvania) High School from 2008-2013 and 2014-16 and the head boys coach at Elkland (Pennsylvania) from 2002-2007. Between the two stops, his teams amassed four conference championships (similar to South Carolina’s regions) and three district championships (the precursor to the full state playoff rounds).

The Williamsport Sun Gazette twice named him as the publication’s basketball coach of the year, and he was also honored as one of the “Top 10 Coaches of the Decade” (2000-2010) in North Central Pennsylvania. In 2014, he was named to the Tioga County Sports Hall of Fame, taking into account both his coaching and his high school athletic careers.

St. James Athletics Director Billy Hurston said Tibbits was selected over a group of five interviewees, all of whom had various degrees of varsity experience. Horry County Schools announced that Tibbits and fellow current St. James teacher Jared Caudill were the lone two finalists under consideration. In total, 17 applicants fulfilled the job requirements.

Although it was also posted as a supplemental-only position, anyone looking for a teaching job in conjunction with the athletic role was relegated to a social studies certification. Hurston said he received emailed resumes from coaches who had physical education certifications, but those people were immediately disqualified from consideration.

From there, St. James focused on candidates who would be part of the full-time staff. Hurston said it was pure luck that Tibbits already was.

“I want him to know the names of the ladies serving food and the people sweeping our floors,” Hurston said. “It’s more than just coaching. Anyone can just coach. You need to be out in the community. You need to be our fundraising and teaching and doing stats and community service projects.”

Tibbits will be the third coach in school history, joining Monty Carr (2003-2016) and Jeremy Heinhold (2016-2019). The Sharks have not had a winning record since 2014-2015, when they advanced to the third round of the state playoffs. In total, the program has had three winning seasons in 16 years. It also has just three all-time playoff victories, two of which came in the winter of 2015.

So while all of the additional requirements will be asked of Tibbits, he also recognized that winning is necessary. Still, he doesn’t expect it to be easy.

“You can bring in Mike Krzyzewski or any coach and they’re not always immediately going to win,” Tibbits said. “You have to put in some work. There are some athletes here. The cupboard is not bare. I like what we’re looking at. The translation will be the buy-in.”

Contact Charles D. Perry at 843-488-7236


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