Men’s basketball coach Dave Hixon ’75 reached (and surpassed) 800 career wins this year. To mark the occasion, we asked him about everything from his TV look-alike to his favorite book to his recruiting philosophy.
If Hollywood made a movie about your life, who would play you?
Somebody said I look like Peter Strauss, when Rich Man, Poor Man was going on in the 1970s. But, you know, I think I’d probably defer (ha!) and let Kevin Costner play me.
You are only the third coach in Division III men’s basketball history to reach 800 wins. How do you define success?
John Wooden defined it as doing the very best you can to become the very best you’re capable of becoming. I’m a process guy. I believe end results happen because of the process. Success will be making our kids better people. Better adults, better family people.
What’s your favorite book?
Don Quixote. My two favorite Amherst courses were Jim Maraniss’ class on Cervantes and Duane Bailey’s Math 33, “The Theory of Numbers.” I remember a math problem he asked me to get up and do. If I had a picture, it would look like something out of Good Will Hunting.
What are some of your best Amherst basketball memories?
1994 was the first year we could go to the NCAAs, and we beat Williams; we hadn’t beat Williams in forever. The gym was so packed that people were on the end line. In 2006, against Tufts, Andrew Olson ’08 hits something called “the shot.” You can see it online. It’s phenomenal: We count it down, Olson makes the shot, we win in overtime. Farther back, we hit a buzzer-beater at Westfield State to give me my first win, and that was a young guy named Cal Malone ’79. You never forget your first win.
Tell me about your recruiting philosophy.
Parents are investing so much time driving their kids all over America. They want to be the agents, and I don’t allow that at all. I’m a relationship guy, and so the longer I’m on the phone—like I told one father, “Hey, I spoke to Aaron the other day for a half hour.” And he goes, “You must have talked to somebody else. My son doesn’t talk for a half hour.” But that’s the relationship we’d built.