Amherst Magazine

Like father, like son

By Kevin Graber

On March 17, men’s basketball coach Dave Hixon ’75 led his team to its first national title with a championship win over Virginia-Wesleyan College. The Lord Jeffs ended the season at 30-2, the best record in school history, and the Website D3Hoops.com named Hixon coach of the year. But to Hixon, who is Amherst’s winningest coach ever, a 64-45 win at Williams on Jan. 6 was particularly meaningful. That victory propelled Hixon and his father, former Andover (Mass.) High School coaching legend Wil Hixon, to a combined 1,000 career wins.

“It’s the only number that’s meant anything to me personally,” says Hixon, who is in his 30th season as head coach at Amherst. (See “What it takes,” Sports, Fall/Winter 2006.) “Basketball has been the connector between us for as long as I can remember.”

Wil Hixon cemented his own legacy with a total of 469 high school coaching victories. Most of them came at Andover High, where he guided the Golden Warriors, and his son Dave, to a state championship in 1970. “Ask almost any coach,” the elder Hixon says: “it’s great to have your son play for you. And while I’m extremely proud of all he’s accomplished at Amherst, I’m most proud of the way he’s done it.”

The Hixons entered the New England Basketball Hall of Fame together in 2003. At the time, Dave Hixon described their joint induction as “probably my best moment in basketball to date.” Father and son connect by telephone after every game, but no conversation was sweeter than the one they shared following victory number 1,000.

“It’s hard to describe how I felt during that phone call,” Wil Hixon says. “It was a great feeling to be able to tie the two of us together with such a special milestone.”