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Veteran coach McAmis steps away to follow calling

Kevin Mays • Apr 4, 2020 at 6:00 PM

WISE — T.J. McAmis will miss the games and competition, but that’s not what he will miss the most.

“Those moments in practice. The quality time that you can spend with them one on one. That’s what I’m going to miss the most about coaching,” McAmis said.

McAmis, the only boys basketball head coach at Wise Central since the high school opened in 2011, announced his resignation from the post earlier this year. He stepped down to dedicate more of his time to his work as assistant principal at Central, to his family and to his duties as a lead pastor of one of the largest churches in Wise County.

The move from coach to administrator was facilitated by Central Principal David Stanley.

“It was a two-year process,” McAmis noted. “My son, Isaiah, just finished his senior season this year. So Mr. Stanley agreed to me working as assistant principal and coaching this year. But it was very tough doing both. So I resigned this year to be able to spend more time with my duties as assistant principal.

“I’m very thankful to Mr. Stanley for allowing me to coach this last year.”

McAmis’ 20-year head coaching career included stints at J.J. Kelly and Twin Springs. He became the Central coach when Kelly and Pound consolidated.

This past season was one of the best in his career. He guided the Warriors to a 20-9 record and a berth in the state quarterfinals. It was the first state tournament appearance for Central and for McAmis, who totaled 241 career wins.

The season was even more special for McAmis. Not only was he blessed with a corps of seniors and talented players, he also got to coach his son in his final year.

“It’s always hard when the season ends, but this year was particularly hard,” McAmis said. “This was a special team.”

“TIME FOR ME TO GIVE MORE”

The coach said factors other than professional ones played into his decision to step away.

“It is very hard to walk away from a game that has been a major part of my life since I was 7, but it is time,” McAmis said in February when he announced his decision. “My wife and family have sacrificed vacations and holidays for the sake of the team and basketball. My wife, Rosiland, has been the backbone of every program I have coached. It’s time for me to give more to them and my church. I just hope that God has used me to impact the lives God has placed in my life.”

McAmis has served as the lead pastor of Mount Olive Baptist Church in Wise for 20 years. He was assistant pastor for two years prior.

His father was pastor of the church before McAmis stepped into the position at the age of 23.

“I never wanted to be involved in the church,” McAmis recalled. “I went to college and I was involved in sports and my plans didn’t include being a part of the church. But God had other plans for me. I recommitted my life during my senior year and I’ve been involved with the church ever since.”

While he has a passion for following Jesus, McAmis readily acknowledges his passion for the game of basketball.

“I’m a competitive person and a lot of times that’s polarizing. And I know that,” he said. “I’m still passionate about basketball, but I’ve tried to channel it in a positive way.”

McAmis admits pastoring while coaching has sometimes been hard on both him and his congregation.

“As a coach I’ve been in the public eye for the long time and that can be hard on a church sometimes,” he said. “The church has always been very supportive of me. Now it’s time for me to support the church a little more.”

The coach said his church is involved in many outreach programs and he hopes to see them grow.

“We minister to UVA Wise with college devotions for the football team and the softball team and some to the basketball teams,” he said. “We really have a heart for Wise County and this whole region and I’m still really passionate about seeing that increase.”

McAmis believes it’s time for him to increase his calling as a pastor and Christian leader and in his missionary work.

“I’d like to keep coaching, but sometimes when God calls you to other things and other places, you have to go,” McAmis said.

Though he plans to stay in Wise, McAmis may continue to take short-term missionary trips out of the country. In the past few years, he’s made missionary trips to Nicaragua, Puerto Rico and Honduras.

“My thoughts toward mission work in the past was we support them financially, so that’s good,” he recalled, before adding: “As high strung as I am, and being a germaphobe, you would not think I would be very comfortable doing missions work. But God has made a way every time and it’s been such a blessing.

“It’s just what God can do. He’s changed me and he’s still changing me.”

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