Coach Blair named as a finalist for the 2023 Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame class

Coach Blair could probably have his own statue on the Texas A&M campus for what he’s done for the Women’s basketball team over the years. After four almost 4 decades and over 850 wins, and an NCAA Championship he decided to hang it up after the 2022 season.

What makes Gary Blair’s journey into women’s basketball a great story was how it began. After graduating from Texas Tech, he was looking to coach high school baseball in the area but came up empty. He eventually took a PE job at the newly integrated South Oak Cliff High School in Dallas Texas. Soon after he arrived Title IX was passed opening the door for girls’ athletics and Blair was approached to coach the girls Basketball team.

He accepted that opportunity and it became the launching point for how Coach Blair developed into one of the best Women’s basketball coaches in history.  Here is a brief statement on how he viewed his time at South Oak Cliff:

“I loved every minute of it,” Blair said. “It just helped me grow as a man, grow as a coach. I was ready to coach anything, any sport, any time.”

Gary Blair’s teams were known for rebounding and playing tough defense. Those two attributes would serve him and his teams well throughout the years resulting in multiple titles and 20 plus win seasons.  At one point his career consisted of 14 straight NNCA tournament appearances which could have been extended to 16 if not for the COVID year cancellation.

It was a little bittersweet to hear about Coach Blair’s retirement, but Texas A&M AD Ross Bjork perfectly describes how I feel about his impact at Texas A&M and the sport of college basketball:

“Coach Blair is a legend in women’s basketball and college sports,” Texas A&M athletic director Ross Bjork said. “He has made a transformational impact on Texas A&M University, our athletics program and all of college basketball. His decades long championship-caliber coaching acumen and recruiting ability has transcended many generations of women’s basketball players and his impact will be felt long after he hangs up the whistle.”

I really enjoyed watching Coach Blair over the years and still have the 2011 banner hanging in my office from when he led the Aggies to their 1st NCAA Basketball Title. He is currently, possibly, in every Hall of Fame he’s been eligible for until now and making it into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame would be icing on the cake to an outstanding career.

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