Blue and Gold - Fall 2021 | Winter 2022 Volume 2 - Issue 2 - Page 49
University of Tampa coach Tom Jessee , Bluefield State Class of 1988 .
were shutting down . So , I felt I could help more at home by making some much-needed money .”
Jessee went on to graduate with degrees in physical education and history . He commuted from Matoaka and , later , Lewisburg .
“ Kenny Mandeville made me who I am today . He gave me a chance to work at the college level and learn how college basketball worked .”
He credits two men with setting him on the course that led to the successes he has enjoyed in more than three decades of coaching .
“ My high school coach Danny Gaither did more than I can ever say in helping a poor boy from a coal camp make it as a player and a man .
“ Kenny Mandeville made me who I am today . He gave me a chance to work at the college level and learn how college basketball worked . He then decided to quit coaching my last year at Bluefield State . So , I was hired right after I graduated with Kenny backing me to replace him . I owe him my life .”
Even though Tom ’ s been in Florida for more than twenty-five years , his heart still beats for West Virginia .
“ I will always be from West Virginia and a proud graduate and employee of Bluefield State College . I have watched them from afar for many years and it ’ s been sad for me to see the college and program go through all they ’ ve been through . I know they ’ re making a lot of changes now to get them back to being the great college that will always be in my heart .”