From ‘World’s Most Fa­mous Arena’ to TCU, Mag­gie Dixon Clas­sic gets a new home

Star-Telegram (Sunday) - - Sports - BY DREW DAV­I­SON ddavi­[email protected]­gram.com

Jamie Dixon couldn’t be more ex­cited about a premier women’s bas­ket­ball event named af­ter his late sis­ter find­ing a new home in Fort Worth.

The 13th Mag­gie Dixon Clas­sic be­tween TCU and Army is set for 2 p.m. Sun­day at Scholl­maier Arena. The MDC had been a sta­ple for sig­na­ture non-con­fer­ence women’s games at New York’s Madi­son Square Gar­den, billed as the “World’s Most Fa­mous Arena,” for nine years, but the time had come for it to find a new home, a new market.

Af­ter one-year stints in Queens, N.Y., (2016) and Col­lege Sta­tion (2017), Fort Worth made sense given that Jamie is now coach­ing the TCU men’s team. A change in venue should bring new ex­cite­ment for the event, too.

“The Gar­den was spe­cial to us, it was great, but with the move down here and times goes on, it seems like a great thing to be in Fort Worth,” said Jamie, who played at TCU from 1984-87 be­fore be­com­ing its head coach prior to the 2016-17 season.

“The first bas­ket­ball Mag­gie prob­a­bly re­mem­bers is watch­ing me play at TCU. I was 17 when I came here, she was 5, so I’m sure she re­mem­bers go­ing to watch the games at the lo­cal pizza par­lor to watch on the satel­lite at the bar. It was the only way you could get them back in the day. I think this move makes sense.

“This event is im­por­tant to women’s bas­ket­ball. It’s a premier game. It has name recog­ni­tion and that’s why we want to keep it go­ing.”

As stated, it makes sense be­cause Jamie is now coach­ing at TCU. And it makes sense that the Lady Frogs will be fac­ing Army, the school Mag­gie led to the NCAA Tour­na­ment in her first season as head coach be­fore sud­denly pass­ing of heart ar­rhyth­mia at age 28 in April 2006.

Cur­rent Army coach Dave Ma­gar­ity served as an as­sis­tant on Mag­gie’s staff.

A piece of trivia Jamie likes to share is that his sis­ter, Mag­gie, be­came the first bas­ket­ball coach in Army his­tory to lead a men’s or women’s team to the NCAA Tour­na­ment. A pretty im­pres­sive feat con­sid­er­ing the Army men’s coach­ing tree in­cludes names such as Bob Knight and Mike Krzyzewski.

“Bobby Knight and Mike Krzyzewski couldn’t, but Mag­gie Dixon did it,” Jamie said, smil­ing. “Army and West Point is a spe­cial place for our fam­ily. Mag­gie was only there for six months, but they’ve made us feel part of their fam­ily and part of West Point from the day we got there un­til to­day. There’s no ques­tion it’s good to get it started down here and it’s good to get it started with Army be­ing part of it.”

Jamie is ex­cited with how well the event has been re­ceived so far by the com­mu­nity and school. TCU women’s coach Rae­gan Pe­b­ley was friends with Mag­gie early in her coach­ing days, and un­der­stands the pres­tige of the event.

“It’s an honor to be a part of any­thing that Mag­gie Dixon’s name is as­so­ci­ated with,” Pe­b­ley said. “Mag­gie rep­re­sented ev­ery­thing that is great about sport, and def­i­nitely women’s bas­ket­ball. Her in­fec­tious en­thu­si­asm, com­mit­ment to the game and her ser­vant-lead­er­ship are al­most un­par­al­leled. We are thank­ful for the op­por­tu­nity to be in­volved with the Mag­gie Dixon Clas­sic for the sec­ond year in a row.”

Ad­di­tion­ally, TCU and UNT Health Sci­ence Cen­ter School of Medicine is part­ner­ing with the Mag­gie Dixon Foun­da­tion to host a Heart Health Fair be­fore the game. Ac­tiv­i­ties will in­clude a “Kids Heart Chal­lenge” jump-rope booth, blood pres­sure checks, au­to­mated ex­ter­nal de­fib­ril­la­tor (AED) train­ing and other heart-healthy sta­tions.

Be­fore the game, TCU will present the clas­sic’s “Heart Hero Award” to the school’s di­rec­tor of ath­letic train­ing, Matt Her­rill, for­mer di­rec­tor of sports medicine Chris Hall and for­mer bas­ket­ball player Johnny Pate.

Her­rill and Hall helped save the life of Pate, who col­lapsed dur­ing the TCU men’s bas­ket­ball alumni game ear­lier this year. Her­rill and Hall re­sus­ci­tated Pate through the use of CPR and a nearby AED.

“Johnny, Matt and Chris are go­ing to be the hon­orees and that’s a big part of the heart health aware­ness,” Jamie said. “Know­ing what to do in a sit­u­a­tion and Matt and Chris did. My sis­ter was in great health and had no is­sue, some­times th­ese things just hap­pen.

“If there would’ve been an AED nearby and some­one knew how to use it, some­one may have been able to save her life. That’s why Johnny, Matt and Chris are a part of it.”

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