WACO, Texas — For more than a decade, Waco Connally Head Girls' Basketball Coach Taylor Sims has spent his time teaching student-athletes how to overcome adversity.
Now, he is learning how to overcome adversity of his own.
During the 2019-2020 basketball season, Sims suffered from intense stomach ulcers. The bleeding and subsequent intestinal surgery nearly cost him his life.
Then, during a check-up, doctors made a startling discovery, diagnosing Sims with Hepatocellular Carcinoma, an aggressive form of liver cancer.
"When I found out and talked to Coach Sims, it was actually after a football practice," Keith Black, a Connally football parent and friend of Sims said. "We talked about it a bit, but he didn't want to talk about that. He wanted to talk about my son, who is in college. That's the type of person he is."
Sims has spent years in the silver and blue, leading the Cadets to its first playoff appearance in 13 years during the 2015 season. That season, he was named the Super CenTex Coach of the Year.
"You can tell when you have a coach that really means something, not just in a job but to the youth and to the community because the kids come back," Centex Waco United Youth Sports President John Kelly said. "They're growing and driving, but they come back to see you and tell you the impact you had. And I know that's exactly how Coach Sims has been."
Now, the same community Sims has spent years serving is returning the favor. Kelly and Waco United held a fundraiser Saturday morning to raise money to help cover medical costs.
They have also set up a GoFundMe account to help his family.
"This shows how much we care about him and care about each other in the community," Black said. "And I think it's real important for the whole community to come together and support Coach Sims in a time like this."
Sims has taken a break from coaching as he fights this disease. He currently serves as the school's facilities coordinator between treatments.
"My dreams, my aspirations are to coach again," Sims said. "I want to, but right now, I know it's more about me, my family and my health."
There is still a long, arduous journey ahead during Sims's recovery, but he believes the lessons he taught on the basketball court can pay off now.
"When you hit adversity, or adversity hits you, how are you gonna respond?" Sims said. "It's not if you're gonna get knocked down. It's when you're gonna get knocked down. How do you get back up? I still have players sending me text messages that say, 'hey. You taught us this."
If you want to help fund Sims's journey, you can do so at this link.