“LDS Young Men Help Win National Junior College Championship,” Ensign, May 1985, 112
LDS Young Men Help Win National Junior College Championship
“Yes, there’s great talent on this team, but probably more important than the talent is the character. This is a team that just wouldn’t be beat,” says Coach Neil Roberts of his Dixie College basketball team.
The Dixie Rebels won the National Junior College Athletic Association championship in Hutchinson, Kansas, March 23, beating Kankakee (Illinois) Community College 57–55.
“As soon as the game was over, I watched the guys on the floor, and I thought, ‘You know, they really deserve it,’” Brother Roberts recalled.
Seven of the twelve players on his Dixie squad are returned missionaries, and two more are preparing to go on missions. The two non-LDS players on his team are also examples of morality and good character, Brother Roberts says. There has not been a discipline problem all year long.
The Church and missionary experiences of so many team members have helped draw them together, the coach commented. In addition, they know how to sacrifice personal reward for the good of the team.
It was the third time in six years that Brother Roberts, a BYU basketball player in the 1960s and now a member of the Bloomington Fourth Ward, St. George Stake, had taken his team to the national tournament. In 1979, the Rebels won third; in 1982, they placed sixth. Averian Parrish, who was named the tournament’s most valuable player, put the game away for Dixie with a basket forty-five seconds before the buzzer. Brother Roberts was also chosen as “Coach of the Year” for the tournament.
Dixie College, once an LDS Church school, is located in St. George, in the warm southwest corner of Utah’s “Dixie.” It is a small school, but the coach says he has no trouble recruiting good players because of the school’s basketball tradition, lively community support, and pleasant location.
He has high praise for his players. “The coach who gets these guys will be very fortunate.” A number of different four-year schools are recruiting the graduating Rebels.
Returned missionaries among the Dixie starters included center Brent Stephenson, a 4.0 premed student who, along with Parrish, was named to the NJCAA all-tournament team; Robert Maxwell, who won the sportsmanship award; and Dan Bell. Returned missionaries Brent Wade (son of the Dixie College president), Lyndon DeYoung, Josh Burgon, and Rob Gentry came off the bench for the Rebels.