After 30 years, Kimbro retiring as coach at Dover

Denise Kimbro led Dover High’s field hockey program to the DIAA state tournament in nine of the last 12 seasons. (Delaware State News file photo)

DOVER — For almost as long as Denise Kimbro can remember, she wanted to be a coach.

She even put it in her Sussex Central High yearbook.

“To be as good a coach as Mrs. Sizemore,” Kimbro wrote when she graduated.

Emily Sizemore was Kimbro’s coach with the Golden Knights.

And, sure enough, Kimbro spent a big part of her life as both a coach and teacher. But now, after 30 years on the sidelines, she’s decided it’s time to move on.

Kimbro recently announced that she’s retiring as Dover High’s head field hockey coach. She’ll retire as a teacher, too, at the end of the school year.

She’s planning on moving to Pennsylvania to be closer to two of her children, who are both high school coaches. She also has a two-year-old granddaughter.

“I don’t want to miss the every day (lives) of my grandchildren,” said Kimbro. “It’s time.”

Dover – Blue coach Denise Kimbro talks with Kiley Casas

First starting out as an assistant coach to Marge Hall at Dover in 1990, Kimbro has had two different tenures as the Senators’ head coach.

She led Dover for five seasons, until 2000, when she stepped down to watch her daughter, Amber Chambers, play field hockey at North Carolina.

Kimbro returned to coaching a few years later to start up the program at the former Campus Community High in Dover. She led the Cougars to a 7-7-2 record and the Diamond State Conference title in her last season there.

Coming back to Dover in 2007, Kimbro has gotten the Senators to the DIAA state tournament in nine of the past 12 seasons. That includes three trips to the Division I semifinals in the last four years.

After Dover went 10-4 and reached the semis again this past fall, Kimbro was named the Henlopen Conference Coach of the Year for the first time.

Asked what she enjoyed about being a coach, Kimbro answered, “The kids.”

“It’s never been about the wins or losses for me,” said the Georgetown native. “We all have a dream, we all want to win. But I think my biggest accomplishment was seeing all those girls, all these years, wear that uniform.

“To instill that love of the game in them and, despite my being hard on them, a lot of them were very, very successful in college field hockey and just getting an education. I just stressed, student first, athlete second.”

Kimbro is proud that her own children decided to go into coaching. She said they basically grew up on the playing fields at Dover High, where she also helped out with other sports like soccer, softball and lacrosse.

“Back then, you took your kids with you,” she said. “I’m very fortunate that they wanted to be athletes and coaches after all that.”

In a sport where only a handful of schools have dominated the Henlopen Conference and state tournament, Kimbro said she doesn’t necessarily mind that her teams never won a title.

In 2017, the Senators did knock off Cape Henlopen, 2-1, to snap the Vikings’ 107-game in-state winning streak.

Kimbro, who said she’ll always “bleed blue and white,” said she enjoyed the challenge of simply trying to get better every season. She noted she usually didn’t have enough players to make cuts.

“I had 14 or 15 girls, I didn’t have 45 to pick from, you know?” said Kimbro. “Like I used to tell my kids, you don’t quit at something, you keep coming back and try to make it better. You strive for more. You’ve got to have heart.

“I used to tell my kids after the (all-conference) meeting, ‘I didn’t get Coach of the Year, you didn’t get all-conference …’ but here I am, I came back. You’re here. I’ve always said that medals will rust and certificates are things but the memories we made, they’re always going to be there.”