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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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One step away
June 8, 2024

Gary Blair: Generational glory

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Photo by Photo by Robert O’Brien

Coach Gary Blair gave a speech in which he thanked everyone for the well wishes but asked that people remember that the Gary Blair Court be remembered as a “we court, not a me court”.

Sixteen-straight NCAA Tournament appearances. 

Five conference titles. 

One National Championship.

Since 2003, head coach Gary Blair has built the Texas A&M women’s basketball program and a legacy. 

On Feb. 24, current and former students gathered in Reed Arena to say goodbye to the selfless and beloved coach who built a legacy for the A&M women’s basketball program over the last 19 years.  

Computer science senior Anu Khatri said although she is excited to see the new coach, she will miss seeing Blair at every game.

“I’m usually part of the band, so we’ve always been there even when not many people go to the women’s games,” Khatri said. “Gary’s a really great guy. I mean, handing out candy is so fun. He’s so personable and really nice.” 

Multidisciplinary engineering technology junior Benjamin Laurel said though he is sad to see Blair leave A&M, he has earned his retirement.

“I don’t know him personally, but I saw when they revealed that they were going to name the court after him … he’s a very humble and honest guy,” Laurel said. “He’s a great coach, shown by 2011. He’s been with us 19 seasons and over 800 wins in his career. He’s just a phenomenal coach.”

English senior Bethany Coile said she distinctly remembers feeling emotional as she watched the 2011 championship game as an 11-year-old. 

“Being able to watch his last game, being that little girl to now, he’s just been such a big part of my life, honestly,” Coile said. “I really respect the guy. I’ve talked to him in person a few times. He’s very chill [and] very cool. He very much exemplifies the Aggie Spirit. He tries to get everybody together and he very much treats everybody the same [and] treats everybody with respect. He’s just a very respectful, nice man.”

Communication senior Joseph Hughey said Blair was a great coach for the program.  

“I think we’re all really thankful we’ve had him, especially for so long,” Hughey said. “He [found] success, and another coach [might] go to another school that might give them more, but Gary [Blaire] stayed loyal. I think that’s really cool, and he exemplifies exactly what we stand for here at the school by doing that.”

Carol Patton, Class of 1992, said Blair has always been a gentleman on the court. 

“When he gets upset with either the players or refs, he’s always been a gentleman,” Patton said. “For me as a former student, I really appreciate that … his generosity. I mean, he’s got a golf tournament where he raises money every year. There’s several things that he does during the year that we’re not necessarily involved in, but there are plenty of people that are. He has a heart for college students and for students in general, and that’s a great thing.” 

As they followed Blair through it all, James Jones, Class of 1959, and Diana Jones said he was a dream come true. 

“We went not just to the championship, we went to away games; there was a group of us that went together on the buses and stuff like that,” Diana Jones said. “And all those years? He’s, I mean, he just loves this place, and he is just so giving and so people oriented.”

James Jones said Blair often recruited fans to games by handing out spare tickets that he kept in his pocket. 

“Even though the students don’t support women’s basketball like we wish they would, he was always out, giving away tickets to get fans in,” James said. “[He’s] just a tremendous ambassador, for A&M and for all sports. Not just women’s sports, but all sports. It meant a lot to Texas A&M and the community.” 
 

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