Renowned local coach, leader passes away

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James Douglas Heinz, 76, passed away on Jan. 2, 2020. 

A native of Memphis, Coach Heinz had a career that spanned 54 years as a football coach, baseball coach, athletic director, and teacher at Colonial Junior High, Briarcrest Christian School and Evangelical Christian School. 

While at ECS, he led his teams to seven TSSAA state championships, four as head football coach and three as head baseball coach. 

In 2018, he was inducted into the Tennessee Football Coaches Hall of Fame. Despite these achievements, wins were secondary to him.

He was more concerned that his players grew into men of character, worthy husbands and fathers, and most importantly, followers of Christ.

Heinz was preceded in death by his parents, Rev. W.F. Heinz Sr. and Gladys Heinz; siblings, Gladys Mae Heinz, Mildred Fingar and Charles Heinz; and a granddaughter, Emerson Grace Grant. Survivors include his beloved wife of nearly 54 years, Jane Heinz; four children, Steve (Alexis) Heinz of Collierville, Stephanie (Mark) Pugh of Collierville, Stacy (Tom) Grant of Newport, N.C. and Shannon (A.J.) Vollmer of Collierville; five siblings, Fred (Frances) Heinz Jr. of Memphis, Jean (Mike) Smith of Chesterfield, Mo., Ray (Sarah) Heinz of Collierville, David (Carolyn) Heinz of Memphis, and Mary (Randy) Lockley of Arlington; brother-in-law, Walter Fingar of Charleston, S.C., sisters-in-law Freda Heinz and Elane Rogers of Memphis; and eleven grandchildren: Hailey, Holland, Hannah, Heath, and Ruby Heinz; Peyton, Ashton, and Parker Pugh; and Heinz, Bennett and Tyler Grant.A funeral service will be held on Jan. 9 at Harvest Church (3645 Forest Hill Irene) at 11 a.m. with a committal service to follow at Memphis Funeral Home and Memorial Gardens (3700 N. Germantown Road).

Last summer Heinz returned to the football coaching staff at ECS and also served in the role of Advancement Special Projects.He is an inductee into the Tennessee Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame coached football and baseball at ECS from 1978 to 2010.

He has won seven Tennessee State Championship titles, four in football and three in baseball, and two of those seasons were undefeated (30-0 in the 1989 baseball season and 13-0 in the 1999 football season). 

He reached the football state title game seven times at ECS, the most appearances of any school in the Shelby Metro area. He is also the only Shelby Metro coach to win three state championships with back-to-back titles.For his longtime dedication and many accomplishments, he was inducted into the ECS Hall of Honor in 2013.

Heinz coached current state champion ECS Head Football Coach Trey Adams on the Eagles football team from 2000-2003 and inspired Adams to pursue coaching as a means to disciple young men to become followers of Christ.