ATHENS — Jim Lister was head boys basketball coach Bob Woodward’s assistant at Athens Area High School during the 2019-2020 season, but he will move up to the head coaching position this winter.
He’s more than a little familiar with the program.
“I’ve been around the Athens program at the younger level for years,” Lister said. “My oldest son Austin came up through and graduated four years ago and Mason’s coming up through now. I’ve been around the younger program for many years and was in there AAU program and Epiphany leagues.”
His youth teams always did very well.
“That’s kind of is why I’m so excited about this high school job,” he said. “These are kids I’ve been coaching for the last five or six years. We’ve been everywhere, played in a lot of different places and won a lot of places. It’s fun and I’m excited about this because your ultimate goal is to get to the high school level and do well.”
Lister said that his familiarity with the guys on the team — and their familiarity with him — will be a plus.
“They know me, I know them and we have a great relationship,” he said. “Nothing is going to be easy, obviously, but I think we’ll do well.”
Lister played basketball and football at Dallas, Pa. High School, graduating in 1989. His next stop was Wilkes University where he played wide receiver on the football team.
“Being a kid growing up with basketball, I played it all the way up through, loved the game and always enjoyed it.”
Although he’s coached his sons on the basketball court, this will be the first time he’ll have the chance to coach one of his sons at the varsity level.
“It was fun coaching my oldest son Austin through the younger years and watching him do well in high school,” said Lister. “Coming back down and working with Mason — there’s a five-year difference — it’s been fun.
“He has some great teammates who’ve kind of grown up together up through the ranks and have done well over the years. Hopefully we can continue that.”
Lister said he’s expecting good things from this year’s team.
“We lose Ethan Lane, who was a tremendous player, and we’re going to have to make up for him,” said the newly-appointed head coach. “We have four starters coming back, including J.J. Babcock, Troy Pritchard, Mason, and Tucker Brown. Shayne Reid is a terrific athlete. We have some other guys coming in who worked out in open gyms this summer so we may have some other talent coming in which is really going to help our team. I like where it’s at and I like where we’re going. I think it could be a pretty good year.”
Of course, there is an elephant in the room. There needs to BE a year before it can be a good one.
“We have to get there first,” said Lister, acknowledging the possibility that everything could get shut down again. “Hopefully the fall sports will go well and everything will go as planned and it’ll be an easy transition to winter sports.