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Jim Blaisdell is no stranger to left turns, as he is in his 33rd year as the head coach of the Weber State University women’s track and field team. But Blaisdell announced earlier this year that this would be his last season as the coach.
Blaisdell joined the program in 1981 and was appointed as the director of track and field back in 2006. During that time, he served 26 years as the head coach for the women’s cross-country team.
Before coaching at WSU, Blaisdell worked at the College of Southern Idaho, where he coached many All-Americans, one of them being current cross-country head coach Paul Pilkington.
“I’ve been coaching for nearly 40 years, with six years at Southern Idaho and 33 years at Weber State,” Blaisdell said. “I was a competitor for 10 years before that, so for nearly 50 years of my life I’ve been involved with track and field, and it has been quite a trip.
“Weber State has been such a great place to spend a major portion of my life, and the hundreds of girls that have gone through the program will always bring fond memories for me.”
Blaisdell hasn’t only succeeded as a mentor for young athletes. He earned All-American honors himself as an athlete during his time at Brigham Young University. His long-jump mark still stands as the second-best mark in school history. That experience has led Blaisdell to have success in his many years roaming the track.
He is the 18-time recipient of the Big Sky Conference Coach of the Year award and District VII Coach of the Year four different times.
Out of the 26 All-Americans Blaisdell has coached at WSU, 18 of those have been from the state of Utah. But Blaisdell’s best work may have come from the 800-meter runners he coached during his tenure. WSU runners have achieved a total of 22 Big Sky individual titles since 1983.
Jerry Bovee, WSU director of intercollegiate athletics, said he appreciated what Blaisdell has done for the program and knows his presence will be missed.
“Jim Blaisdell is a great example of what it means to coach and work at Weber State,” Bovee said. “He has been a terrific leader and mentor to more than 1,000 athletes. He has done wonderful things for Weber State and has left the track and field program in a great place. Jim will always be a Wildcat.”
Retirement is something Blaisdell has always looked forward to. It means he will be able to spend more time with his wife of 45 years, Cathy Heaton, and his 16 grandchildren. But his accomplishments make it a bittersweet feeling as he heads into the sunset.
“You set goals in life, and retirement is certainly a major goal, and then you get there and it’s exciting, but the trip is where the enjoyment really is,” Blaisdell said. “All the experiences that get you to the goal are the things you remember and cherish.”
Information on who will be replacing Blaisdell will appear in Wednesday’s edition of The Signpost.