Blue and Gold - Fall 2021 | Winter 2022 Volume 2 - Issue 2 - Page 48

Tom Jessee , Class of 1988 , has had a pretty good run as a basketball coach . He ’ s entering his 20th season as women ’ s basketball coach at the University of Tampa . The university has an enrollment of more than 10,000 and is an NCAA Division II school .

Coal Miner ’ s Son Starts 20th Season At University of Tampa

Tom Jessee , Class of 1988 , has had a pretty good run as a basketball coach . He ’ s entering his 20th season as women ’ s basketball coach at the University of Tampa . The university has an enrollment of more than 10,000 and is an NCAA Division II school .
Jessee started his coaching career at his alma mater for nine seasons . Between Bluefield and Tampa , there were several winning seasons coaching a Florida girls high school team .
“ The hardest thing in my life was deciding between playing and coaching . But I knew Coach Mandeville was offering me a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity .”
He has a 374-169 record at UT , including five regular season Sunshine State Conference ( SSC ) championships , five tournament championships and 10 NCAA tournament appearances . He is the winningest coach in school history , including six straight 20-win seasons between 2005 and 2011 .
The Spartans are the pre-season favorite to win another SSC title .
At Bluefield State , Jessee had a 170-89 mark that also included four WVIAC championships .
The Matoaka native was WVIAC Coach of the
Year in 1989 . In 2007 , Jessee was named to the WVIAC ’ s “ 25 at 25 ” list of top 20 players and top five coaches in the conference ’ s history . In 2014 , he was inducted into the Bluefield State Athletics Hall of Fame .
Of his years at Bluefield State , Jessee said , “ I was recruited to play at Bluefield State by Coach ( Terry ) Brown . That was 1983 . Then I got hurt after my freshman year .
“ My dad had lost his job in the mines as they were shutting down . So , I felt I could help more at home by making some much-needed money .”
“ Coach Mandeville , who coached the women ’ s team , asked if I ’ d be interested in being his assistant . The hardest thing in my life was deciding between playing and coaching . But I knew Coach Mandeville was offering me a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity .
There was also a family consideration . “ My dad had lost his job in the mines as they
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