A graduate of Malad (Idaho) High School and Brigham Young University, Jim Blaisdell spent 33 years as the coach of the Weber State women’s track and field and cross country programs. Having longjumped 25 feet, 11 1/2 inches as a BYU athlete, he launched his coaching career at the College of Southern Idaho, where he assisted Boyd Grant with the Golden Eagles’ basketball team that won the 1976 Junior College national championship. He also coached 16 All-Americans and led CSI to a seventh-place national finish in cross country in 1974.
In a famous story, as detailed in a StandardExaminer profile upon his retirement in 2014, he was offered a job at Weber while lying in a hospital bed. He recovered, went to work on the campus and never left. As he once explained, his wife, Catherine, said that if he ever considered a position at another school, he could go – but she and their six children were staying in Ogden. So he remained at Weber State for more than three decades, to the benefit of all those Wildcat athletes, in building credentials that make him a Coach of Merit, as recognized by the Utah Sports Hall of Fame Foundation.
In Big Sky Conference competition, Jim’s teams won nine indoor track championships, five outdoor track titles and four cross country championships – with those titles coming consecutively in 2002-05. In the 2002 Big Sky outdoor track and field meet, the Wildcats scored 111 points ahead of the second-place finisher to establish a record that still stands. In addition, his teams compiled 31 second-place finishes in conference meets. His cross country teams posted 14 top- five finishes in the Mountain Region and three top-25 finishes in the NCAA Championship.
Naturally, the Chicago native was honored multiple times as the Big Sky “Coach of the Year.” In all, he received 17 such awards. He also was a two-time District VII “Coach of the Year” in both indoor and outdoor track. Jim coached 28 NCAA All-Americans. Beyond his athletes’ success as collegians, he said, “You hope you’ve been able to help some of these kids in their lives, not only with their running.” Jim’s influence coincided with the growth of women’s athletics at the college level. He coached three sets of mothers and daughters at Weber State.
Parents of six children, Jim and his wife, Catherine, live in Ogden.