Gadsden State Community College has a familiar face on its sidelines. Marty Dixon has returned as the head coach of the Lady Cardinals basketball team. He previously coached from 2015 to 2019 and joined the team as assistant coach earlier this year. He replaces Bryan Phillips, who resigned in August.
“I agreed to come back as an assistant coach because Bryan was having a hard time finding an assistant with the time and experience that I have,” Dixon said. “I came back to help him build the program.”
Dixon practiced with the basketball team all summer, so it was only natural that he take on the head coaching position.
“I talked with my wife, and we decided together that I should apply for the job,” he said. “I’m glad to be back.”
Blake Lewis, Gadsden State’s athletic director, is happy he’s back at the College, too.
“I’m looking forward to working with Coach Dixon as he leads the women’s basketball program,” he said. “He comes to the Cardinal family with great experience as a head coach. I know that he’s going to make sure our team is competitive and among the best.”
Dixon has a long history in basketball. He played the sport along with baseball at Sardis High School. In 1988, he graduated from Jacksonville State University with a bachelor’s degree in general science. His coaching and teaching career started at White Plains High School before going to Cedar Bluff High, where he coached for two years. Dixon also coached at Hewett-Trussville, Pell City and Ragland high schools.
Dixon retired from coaching in 2003 but continued teaching at the Etowah County Alternative School while he and his wife, Texann, cared for their daughter, Anna, who passed away in 2009 after battling a rare genetic disease. He retired from teaching in 2014 and took the reins as the head coach at Gadsden State the following year. He retired for the second time from coaching in 2019.
“We started having grandkids, so I went from basketball coach to Pops to my four grandchildren,” he said.
During his time at Gadsden State, his teams made it to the semifinals of the Alabama Community College Conference Championships. A member of his team, Diamond Jolly, was named an All-American, the first in 38 years at Gadsden State.
“I really enjoyed coaching at Gadsden State,” he said. “I intend to build a successful program. Right now, we’re getting to know each other. I didn’t recruit these girls. I didn’t watch them in high school, so there’s a learning curve.”
He said his 15-member roster includes nine freshmen, which is a challenge.
“There’s a lot of hard lessons,” he said. “There’s a big difference between playing in high school and playing at the community college level, particularly when it comes to the speed of the game. We have to play at our pace and make whoever we are playing to play at that speed.”
The Lady Cardinals have played three jamboree games. They ended up 1-1 at the Northeast Mississippi Jamboree and lost in a game against Berry College.
“I have to admit that we are playing pretty sloppy,” he said. “We have to cut out the mistakes. We are having too many turnovers and lapses for two or three minutes at a time. We stop doing what we are supposed to be doing, and it’s hurting us.”
Dixon said they had one of the best practices they’ve had so far on Sunday.
“We’re figuring it out, and we are working together better,” he said. “I believe we will be competitive this season.”
The Lady Cardinals open regular season play at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday against Talladega College’s junior varsity team.Juco