Chris Tibbits has been hired as St. James High’s third basketball coach in the school’s history, joining Monty Carr (2003-2016) and Jeremy Heinhold (2016-2019).

“I’m excited,” Tibbits said. “It is an extremely good school. They have a high quality of education and they have good kids. I’m excited to see if we can take the next step in the process.”

Tibbits has lived in the South Strand since 2017 teaching social studies at St. James Middle before moving to the high school this past year in the same capacity. He also spent time as an assistant with the school’s football and basketball programs.

He had two successful stints as a head coach in Pennsylvania, first at Ekland High as the boys coach from 2002-2007 and then at Cowanesque Valley as the girls coach from 2008-2013 and 2014-2016. Between those two stops, he won four conference championships and three district titles to go along with more than 200 wins.

At St. James, Tibbits will be tasked with turning around a program that has not had a winning record since 2015, and has only had three winning seasons in the 16-year history of the school.

“You have to start from the bottom up,” he said. “I think we can certainly compete and win with what we have now. With a program, there has to be consistency from the bottom to the top. We need to locate more kids in our intermediate schools and develop a feeder program where they come up with the skills needed.”

“We need to make them feel like they are a part of our program at a young age and give them some pride in what we are doing,” he said. “You have to change the belief that we are good enough to do it. You have to develop traditions, especially being a young school.”

Tibbits said his team will be aggressive on defense and will push the ball up the court on offense.

“I’m fairly intense,” he said. “I’m extremely passionate and love being around the game of basketball. I believe in working extremely hard and want my kids to do the same thing. We are going to work really hard, and I will get after them sometimes to get more out of themselves than they think they can get.”

He hopes winning will become contagious throughout the program.

“I want to be able to compete every year and have the chance of winning a region or moving into the state playoffs where it becomes expected,” he said. “I’ve been in programs like that before. If you are going to have a successful program, everybody has to buy in from the administration, coaching staff, players and the community. It is a big process.”