SLIAC; Looking Back is a weekly interview series each Thursday this summer with former players and coaches who made an impact during their time in the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SLIAC). We hope you enjoy a look back through time and how the SLIAC played a role in who they are today. Today we speak with former Blackburn College head coach Jim Sexton.
Jim Sexton has over 30 years of coaching experience and got his start in coaching at his alma mater Blackburn College. A 1977 graduate of Blackburn, Sexton spent 15 years as the Beavers women's basketball head coach where he was a three time conference Coach of the Year and guided the Beavers to a National Small College Athletic Association Championship in 1993. Sexton was head coach of the Beavers when the SLIAC was formed and went on to coach at Lehigh University, the United States Naval Academy, Northwestern University, and the University of Evansville before retiring from coaching in 2011.
As someone who was coaching during the formation of the conference, what do you remember during those times?
"I remember the transition from an NAIA school to an NCAA Division III school. Our previous conference was comprised of primarily NAIA schools with differing philosophies on awarding athletic aid. We wanted to put together a conference of similar schools with the DIII philosophy. It was a little slow to start but grew quickly and became quite competitive."
Can you talk about what it was like to win the National Small College Championship in 1993?
"It was very satisfying, especially beating the home team on their court in Delaware. The process was difficult as we played qualifying tournament games while still finishing up play in the SLIAC games. But our players trusted in what we were doing and were very determined as we had come very close to winning it in previous years."
What are some of your fondest memories at Blackburn?
"First off I have great memories of being a student-athlete at Blackburn. Being a soccer player from Florida I saw my first snow and freezing temperatures in a match at Quincy. The friendships I made during that time are still flourishing today. Coaching there was a challenge at times but also very rewarding. I coached two sports and taught a full load of classes each semester. I'm very proud of the accomplishments we achieved in women's basketball and cherish the opportunity I had to work with great young men and women."
Why did you choose to go into coaching?
"I actually fell into coaching. Coaching boys JV basketball was part of my first teaching job. After a few years doing that I was given the opportunity to coach at Blackburn and it took off from there. I absolutely loved my time coaching and cherish the friends I made and players I had the pleasure of coaching."
As someone who has coached at various levels of college, what do you see as the one constant thread for a player being successful?
"There are actually a few; work ethic, coachability, and being a good teammate. Successful players are determined and put in the work necessary to succeed. They must trust the system and be coachable. They have to be good teammates; trustworthy and willing to do whatever is best for the team. It kind of follows a philosophy I picked up at The Naval Academy. It is all about the Ship (team) first. Second it is the Shipmates (teammates). Finally it is Self! So Ship, Shipmates, Self!"
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