Jeramiah "Jim" Wimberly, Jr.
by Tom Barker
One of the many things on my long to do list is to write a book titled, In Search of Mentors. One of the chapters in the book would certainly be on Jim Wimberly.
Sadly, Jim passed away on Friday, June 3, 2005. Some might say that he lost his long battle with cancer. However, anyone that knew Jim would never say Jim lost to anything. To lose implies not giving your best or giving up. He just got beat. I often heard him tell a kid after a close archery match that he or she just got beat. It was from Jim that I learned there are no bad days in archery.
Every person needs a mentor and Jim was one of mine. Every good mentor has a way of leaving you something to remind you of the legacy. Jim's reminder for me was telling my son Kevin and I about his days in Viet Nam. He told us to go read Victor Frankel's book, Man's Search For Meaning. He recited this quote from the book; "Everything can be taken away from man but one thing, [the ability] to choose one's attitude in a given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way." Every kid I have worked with since has gotten the "Attitude is Everything" speech.
When I started with my own kids, Jim was the champion of 4H archery in south Texas. It was from Jim that I learned that in 4H archery we had six groups of customers, and we had to take care of all of them:
1) The kids that just want to see what archery is all about.
2) The kid that want to do the minimum amount to satisfy the project.
3) The hardware collectors that want to win lots of trophies.
4) The kids that want to be a better bowhunters
5) The kids that come for social reasons.
6) The kids that want to be competitive archers.
But most important was the introduction to archery and if we did this right, then they would enjoy this for a lifetime. It was from Jim that I learned that enjoying archery would help the kids to master other life skills.
Another thing I learned from Jim was that youth archery is about the kids. Adults should leave their issues and competitiveness at the door. If you do what is in the kids' best interest, everything would be ok.
The third thing I learned from Jim was that if you challenged the kids in a structured environment of learning and fun, they would amaze you with what they could accomplish. The number of state, national and international competitive Texas youth archers is a direct result of the foundation Jim Wimberly formed.
When Jim first got sick and was forced to back off from active participation in the Texas 4H archery program, it fell to others to pick up the baton. I was one of those to carry on the legacy. In everything I did I tested it against what my mentor would have done. Is it in the kids' best interest? Does it challenge them? Are they learning anything new? Are they having fun? The record attendance in the 4H project in District 11 and the huge growth of Texas JOAD archery is a direct result of us applying those expectations that we inherited from Jim and satisfying Jim's list of customers. Jim, it is a shame you are gone and I only hope you knew how many kids you made a difference with, most whom never knew you.
by Rick Stonebraker
I first met Jim Wimberly at an indoor event many years ago. He came over and introduced himself and his son to me. Jay was a youngster at the time and Jim was a robust fellow with a booming but gentle voice. Jay was an astute and very polite young man who learned manners, something that I find from a lot of kids in the 4-H and youth programs in Texas. Jay had potential and it was evident that he learned many good qualities and traits from his father. Over the years, we became very good friends and the information sharing was mutual, I helped Jay as much as I could and I learned things from Jim as well. Jim was a Vietnam War vet and shot a lot of rifle while in the service. He taught me some useful information that I was able to relate to archery.
Jim and I took level two archery together at Texas A&M and when you spend three days with someone, you learn a lot about them. I learned he was a teacher as well as a student and we got along real well. We got together at every tournament and chatted about things and often dined together. We spent a lot of time picking each others brains; he trying to better Jay and in the process, bettering myself. It was a Win-Win combination.
The highlight of Jay's shooting was the semi-finals of the 1996 Olympic trials. Jim was ailing and could not attend so Jay tagged along with me and Scott Williams to Columbus, Ohio. Jay spoke every day to his dad and qualified for the final sixteen. I was to judge the finals in Long Beach so I volunteered to take Jay with me. They chatted and decided that Jim was going to accompany Jay and they would do it as a team. Jim was that proud of his son and made the trip to Long Beach. Jay never made it out of the sixteenth spot but he gave it his all and that is all Jim asked of him.
I was most impressed with the way Jim worked with his son and others. He never pushed for excellence of results, just the excellence of trying and giving it your all. I spent many a moment observing this and wish more parents would work with their kids and not against them. Jim was a wonderful teacher of archery, sports and fundamental concepts of everyday life. Live it to the fullest and it is a shame that someone so positive and caring had to leave us at this stage of everyone's life. But if he could tell us something right now, it would be to do your very best and no one would ever ask for anything more. He will be missed; he was a good friend.