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AIC Board of Trustees Member, Alumnus Jim Calhoun Named Coach of the Year at ESPYs

SPRINGFIELD — American International College (AIC) board of trustees member and alumnus Jim Calhoun was recently honored as Coach of the Year at the ESPYs.

During his acceptance speech and in an article that appeared in AIC’s Lucent magazine in 2018, Calhoun cited the sudden death of his father when he was 15 years old as a challenging time in his life. As one of six children, he put his education on hold for two years, going to work as a stonecutter and taking other manual-labor jobs in order to help his family. Although disappointed because he wanted to play college basketball, the Braintree native credited the people around him, including his high-school principal, coach, and other mentors, for pushing him to enroll in college. 

Speaking with Lucent, Calhoun said Gayton Salvucci, who grew up in Quincy, was coaching football at AIC at the time and suggested Calhoun give AIC a look. According to Calhoun, “I did that, and it all worked out for me. I got another basketball scholarship, and I became team captain in my senior year.” He led the Yellow Jackets in scoring as a junior and senior. In 1966, he helped AIC achieve its first NCAA Division II playoff appearance.

In his ESPY Coach of the Year speech, Calhoun credited “the village around him” for his ability to pursue basketball, adding that “I have dedicated my life to doing for others what those folks did for me,” which allowed him to “reach out and help others” during his more than 40 years of college coaching, including 14 at Northeastern and 26 at the University of Connecticut, during which UConn won three NCAA Division I national championships; and enshrinement in the AIC Athletic Hall of Fame and the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, both in 2005. Additionally, 31 of his players went on to careers in the NBA.

Now out of retirement and back in the game at age 77 with the University of Saint Joseph in West Hartford, Conn., he guided the Blue Jays to a 16-12 mark and GNAC championship-game appearance during the NCAA Division III men’s basketball team’s inaugural season before being honored as  Coach of the Year at the ESPYs.

To read the entire Lucent magazine “Back in the Game” article, visit aic.edu/lucent.

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