Honored recognition by one's peers can be regarded as one of the finest compliments a person can receive. If that is so, former Cal Poly Pomona track and field and cross country coach Jim Sackett has been handsomely rewarded.
Sackett, who retired in June after directing the Broncos' teams for 27 seasons, was honored this month with his selection to the United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) Hall of Fame.
He will be inducted into the Hall of Fame on Dec. 18 at the USTFCCCA annual convention in Phoenix.
“I never expected anything like this in my lifetime,” Sackettt said. “It's unbelievable to think I'll be joining such a great group of people in the Hall of Fame. I looked up to so many of them for so many years.”
During his 38 years as a head coach at the Division II level-11 seasons at Western Illinois and 27 at Cal Poly Pomona – Sackett coached 12 national champions, 135 outdoor track All-Americans and 24 cross country All-Americans. Cal Poly Pomona's national title in 1983 was one of seven top-10 finishes at the NCAA Division II Cross Country Championships.
In 1997, Sackett was named the USTFCCCA Division II Coach of the Year in men's cross country and women's track and field.
“I liked coaching at the Division II level. We had great camaraderie among the coaches,” Sackett said. “I enjoyed taking kids who weren't big names out of high school and watching them develop as athletes and people. … The special thing about this sport is that they're in it for the love of the game. I think that's why so many of them are successful in the world.”
Sackett competed in the middle distances at Mankato State, graduating in 1961 with a degree in history and physical education. After earning a master's degree in education from Washington State University, Sackett began his coaching career at Davis (Calif.) High School.