For some observers, basketball is merely an entanglement of bodies on hardwood. For others, it’s a zen-ful game, filled with concentration and inner peace.
For Jon Judkins, basketball is a game of excitement and that excitement continually keeps him intrigued.
And while Judkins played as one of Dixie College and Utah State’s premiere athletes in the 1980’s, Judkins now enjoys pacing the sidelines as the head coach of Dixie State College’s Men’s Basketball team.
“Coaching is the next best thing than playing,” Judkins said. “You get the butterflies; you get the highs and lows; there’s nights you can’t sleep; it’s the same as a player. But it’s a lot of fun to coach.”
Judkins played for the then-Dixie College Rebels in 1984, one year before Dixie College won its first junior college national championship. During his time at Dixie, Judkins developed an appreciation and affection for the people of St. George.
“I’ve always loved it here,” Judkins said. “Me and my wife both came here to school, half of my family has been here at Dixie State College, so it’s a great place to get an education. I always wanted to come back here to coach.”
Since arriving in 2006, Judkins has led the Red Storm to two NCAA tournament appearances, including a West Region final appearance in the spring of 2011. Also, Judkins coached Dixie State to shares of the last two PacWest Conference championships.
This success, along with Judkins’ friendly and humble nature, makes the coach a key cog in the DSC Athletic Department’s community-friendly efforts.
“He [Judkins] has been here a long time, so people know him,” DSC Athletic Director Jason Boothe said. “He’s successful, so obviously that helps. We get good crowds here, so they [DSC fans] see him, so it just kind of snowballs into a very positive effect for him.”
Judkins’ coaching philosophy is simple: play hard and play together. And Judkins stives to treat his players as more than just student athletes in his program.
“They [the players] are like my family,” Judkins said. “I tell them they’re my family and I treat them like my family. I tell them, all I want is for you to bust your [behind] for me, and work hard, and you’re going to play. And I’m honest with them; I’m not going to hide anything from them. I tell them how it is.”
The coaching mantra of Jon Judkins has gained respect from peers and players alike. Judkins has won the last three PacWest Coach of the Year awards, but his players especially appreciate his efforts to build a quality program.
One such appreciative player is starting power forward Griffon Jones, who transferred to Dixie State because of his close relationship with the coaching staff at DSC.
“He [Judkins] definitely has a focus on his players; he wants them to get better everyday, every week, and just get better with every drill,” Jones said. “He wants his players to work hard and figure out what they need to do to get better everyday.”