Cold Springs’ Tim Willoughby collected Class 2A Coach of the Year accolades when the Alabama Sports Writers Association announced its 2020-21 All-State boys basketball teams on Sunday.
Willoughby guided the Eagles to a 22-6 record — their best showing since 2016-17 — this past season, leading the Blue and Gold to their first county tournament title since 2014, the 2A, Area 13 Tournament crown and their first Sweet 16 appearance since 2015.
Two graduating seniors — Micah Calvert and Adam Hill — were freshmen on the 2017-18 squad that accumulated a 3-22 record.
Three seasons later, however, both were top contributors on a team that simply refused to lose down the stretch — the eighth-ranked Eagles dropped just one game after Christmas — and played tough basketball each and every time it took the floor.
Both players credit Willoughby for the program's huge turnaround.
“Coach Willoughby told us that experience in ninth grade would pay off, and it did,” Calvert said. “He told us all offseason it could be one of the most special years we’ve had here in a while. With him losing his wife (in 2018) and one of our player's (Brodi Williams) grandfather passing away during the season, we went to work for them — and it paid off. Coach loves to win, and he gets competitive on the bench. But he’s really a laid-back guy. He taught me a lot of things about how you have to stay positive through the bad times and the good times."
Added Hill: “He worked really hard coaching us, and he’s a great coach. It definitely helps having someone who cares so much. We got a little better each season, and it was a great experience."
In eight seasons at the helm, Willoughby has accumulated a 144-88 record with the Eagles and won five area championships.
Cold Springs’ varsity girls coach Tammy West has seen Willoughby in action during his tenure with the school and couldn't think of anyone more deserving of the honor.
"Coach Willoughby is awesome. I’m in the gym with him every day, and those boys work hard,” West said. “Just to see how far they all progressed was fun. He’s so meticulous and very detail-oriented. His passion for the game — everyone can see that. And it’s not just at those games; it’s at practice, too. It couldn’t have happened to a better person.”