Jimmy GarrityHead Coach
Office Phone: (864) 231-2011
Jimmy Garrity enters his third season at the helm of the Anderson University women’s basketball team, being hired on August 1, 2013.
Stringing together one of the program's best seasons in 2014-15, Garrity was tabbed South Atlantic Conference Coach of the Year, becoming the second AU coach to earn the yearly honor. Garrity led the Trojans to a 27-5 overall record and a berth into the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16. Prior to the postseason run, Garrity became the first coach in conference history to win 20 league games, finishing the season with a 20-2 SAC record and a regular-season championship. Garrity also saw starting point guard Sierra Simpson earn SAC Player of the Year and SAC First Team honors, while Lesley Woods and Jasmine Franklin were listed on the SAC Honorable Mention list.
Garrity led the Trojans to a 16-14 overall record an 11-11 mark in SAC play in his first year with the Trojans. After earning the No. 6 seed in the SAC Tournament, the Trojans shocked the league with a 71-64 overtime win over third-seeded Lincoln Memorial, earning a spot in the conference semifinals where they fell to eventual tournament champion, Wingate. Under Garrity, AU placed three on all-conference teams, including Simpson's All-SAC second team honor and Alexis Dillard's all-freshman team spot.
Garrity spent the 2012-13 season at Clemson University as the women’s basketball assistant coach. With the Lady Tigers, Garrity was in charge of scouting, practice planning, game scheduling, coordinating of the guards, community service and alumni relations. Garrity also maintained the Lady Tiger website and monitored the academic success of the student-athletes.
Before spending a season at CU, Garrity spent 10 seasons within many facets of the UNC Wilmington basketball program. The Clemson resident was hired as the Director of Basketball Operations in 2002 for both the men’s and women’s basketball teams. Once the position spilt into two different roles, Garrity took over just the women’s side while also becoming an assistant coach in 2007. Continuing his tenure with UNCW, Garrity was promoted to the associate head coach role in 2011 and coached his team to the second round of the WNIT.
Being involved with sports throughout his life, ranging from the NBA to youth basketball, Garrity brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to Anderson. Before getting into coaching, Garrity worked as a Golf Course Superintendent in Lawrence, Kan. and a Field Representative and Director of Ticket Sales and Services at NC State.
In his time working with college basketball, Garrity has spent time with a CAA Player of the Year, two CAA Rookie of the Year recipients, two CAA Tournament MVPs, a CAA Defensive Player of the Year, nine all-CAA players, two Dean Ehiers Leadership Award winners, six CAA all-academic honor roll members, one ACC all-academic honor roll member, and 13 professional basketball players.
Garrity graduated from Elon in 1989 with a degree in business administration and marketing and later earned a Master’s in sports administration from St. Thomas University in Miami, Fla. in 1990.
Garrity is married to Jenny Garrity, who served as UNCW’s women’s tennis coach for 13 seasons. The couple have two daughters Kacey and Carly, and a son Corey.
Mike MerrillAssistant Coach
Office Phone: (864) 231-2011
Mike Merrill will be entering his third season with the Trojans after coming to AU with head coach Jimmy Garrity in 2013-14. Merrill has been an understudy of Garrity since his time as a UNC Wilmington student assistant in 2005. In 2007, Merrill was hired as the Director of Basketball Operations for the Seahawks, as Garrity was an assistant coach for the women’s basketball team. Merrill ended up spending five seasons with UNCW and contributed to the program’s success on and off the court.
“I am extremely excited to have Coach Merrill join our basketball family. He brings a great deal of experience and basketball knowledge to Anderson,” Garrity said. “His personality, work ethic and character are a great fit for AU and our program and I look forward to the positive impact he will have on our student-athletes, not only as basketball players but as young adults.”
Away from the court, Merrill founded UNCW’s mentoring program at Holly Tree Elementary in Wilmington, N.C. and was a counselor at Ann Hancock’s women’s basketball camp and camp supervisor for Cynthia Cooper Basketball camps, both held on the campus of UNCW.
Merrill was also a main contributor to the “Seahawks Tomorrow” program where he worked with the school’s athletic marketing department to reach out to elementary school students and provide tours of UNCW’s campus to inspire them to attend college in the future.
“I am honored to join the AU family as the assistant women’s basketball coach and I would like to thank Coach Garrity and Athletic Director Nancy Simpson for the opportunity to join the Trojan Athletic Department,” Merrill said. “Coach Garrity’s program is based on integrity and hard work while focusing on the development of student-athletes on and off the court and I share those same values. Coach Garrity’s leadership, in addition to the vision Nancy Simpson has for AU, made this an excellent opportunity and I am extremely excited to contribute to the success of Anderson Women’s Basketball.”
Merrill received his Bachelor of Arts in physical education from UNC Wilmington in 2007 and is currently pursuing his Master of Arts in sports mangement from North Carolina State University. Merrill married to the former Molly Pyles who played volleyball at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill from 2001-05. Both are natives of Hendersonville, N.C.
Sierra SimpsonAssistant Coach
Office Phone: (864) 231-2011
Simpson begins her first season with the Anderson coaching staff after putting together one of the most decorated careers in Anderson University women’s basketball history. Jimmy Garrity announced the hiring of Simpson on Aug. 5.
“We are thrilled to have Sierra join our basketball staff,” Garrity said. “She is a tremendous addition to our program and a great ambassador for Anderson University. Sierra has been such a big part of our program’s success over the past four seasons. I have enjoyed watching her grow as a player, person, teammate and leader. Her leadership qualities and enthusiasm will be an invaluable asset to our players and program. I’m so happy that she will continue to be on the sideline representing AU.”
Simpson is coming off a 2014-15 season where she was tabbed South Atlantic Conference Player of the Year, averaging 10.7 points per game, 5.9 rebounds and a conference-high 4.6 assists per contest. Simpson concluded her career ranking 11th in the program’s all-time scoring list (1,049), sixth in rebounds (635), third in assists (444), third in steals (237) and third in games started (118). The point guard was also named to the Daktronics All-Southeast Region Second Team, the Southeast Regional All-Tournament Team and the SAC All-Tournament Team during the postseason.
This April, Simpson was a part of the “So You Want To Be A Coach” program, held by the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) during the WBCA National Convention in Tampa, Fla. Simpson was one of three student-athletes from the SAC to be a part of the annual program, which gave prospective coaches a way to network with current coaches from across the country. A month later, Simpson earned a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology from Anderson.
“I am extremely happy and excited to have a position on this great coaching staff,” Simpson said. “I have learned a lot as player from Coach Garrity and Coach (Mike) Merrill and I look forward to continuing to develop as a young coach. Anderson University and our women's basketball program have been such a huge part of my life and given me so many opportunities. I am proud to continue to represent AU and look forward to further developing the current players and the incoming freshman class on and off the court.”
Simpson joins a staff that has recorded a 43-19 (.694) record in their two seasons with the Black and Gold. Garrity led Anderson to a 27-5 record in 2014-15, headlined by becoming the first women’s basketball program to win 20 conference games in SAC history. Prior to the start of Anderson’s NCAA Tournament run, Garrity was named SAC Coach of the Year, becoming the second Trojan coach to earn the honor (Jim Brunelli – 2013).