James Omps '53 | Handley 100th Anniversary Notable
James Omps ’53

Jimmy Omps was voted “Most Likely to Succeed” by the Class of 1953. He played basketball at Handley for Coach Hunter Maddex and was manager of the football team before going to Shepherd College.

Jimmy was a three-year basketball starter for Shepherd making a career average of 76% of his free throws. He was a member of Shepherd’s first track and field team in 1954 and served as the trainer for its undefeated 1955 football team. He was inducted into the Shepherd University Athletic Hall of Fame in 1991.

After receiving his undergraduate degree from Shepherd, Jimmy went on to earn a Masters of Education degree from the University of Virginia. He returned to teach math at Handley in 1959 and worked with Coach Maddex as an assistant football coach and JV basketball coach. When Coach Maddex retired in 1967, Jimmy became varsity basketball coach and athletic director.

The Hunter Maddex-Jimmy Omps Gymnasium at John Handley High School is named for the two remarkable coaches and athletic directors. Hunter Maddex and Jimmy Omps coached at total of 664 varsity basketball games for Handley between 1946 and 1974. Their teams won approximately 63% of all games played.

Coach Omps was the Athletic Director at Handley until his retirement in 1995. The Shepherdstown Chronicle described him as “a symbol-statesman of the athletic excellence that was Handley High for many years” in an article published in August 2023. The article continued: “he’s more than a well-respected gentleman, who when mentioned among the sport’s dignitaries and greats in Virginia, can bring a smile to the faces of those who played for him, participated in games he officiated or knew him from his years at Shepherd.”

The Virginia Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association selected Coach Omps as the Athletic Administrator of the Year in 1977. At the recommendation of the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association Past Presidents, he was selected as the individual to receive the organization’s top award, the Thomas E. Frederick Award of Excellence, upon his retirement in 1995.

Coach Omps was the first person to be inducted into the Hunter Maddex Hall of Fame twice. He was inducted as a player in 1992 and as a coach in 2016.

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