On Saturday, the Charlotte 49ers will host the Richmond Spiders in a men's tennis match. It's much more than a game between Atlantic 10 Conference rivals. It's also father vs. son.
Jim Boykin has coached Charlotte for 16 seasons. This season is the first as coach at Richmond for Jim's son, Billy. They will meet as opposing coaches for the first time on Saturday.
“When I was going to school, I learned from a great deal of coaches, including my first coach, Dick McKee at Furman, as well as (former Appalachian State basketball coach) Bob Light and (N.C. State basketball mentor) Norm Sloan, who let me follow him around when I was a young man learning how to coach,” said Jim, who has been a coach for 38 years, including four as a basketball coach.
Billy grew up in Belton, S.C. while Jim was a coach at Anderson College, and the family moved to Davidson when he took the job at Charlotte. Billy got to sneak on to courts while his dad held practices and worked at camps and clinics in the area.
By the time Billy was choosing a college, Jim recruited his son to come and play for the 49ers, but Billy’s ties to home in Davidson and the family’s relationship with longtime Wildcats coach Jeff Frank kept Billy on the northern side of the Mecklenburg County.
“Going to Davidson was a tough decision for me,” said Billy. “My mom and sisters lived right there. I needed a smaller school environment. Dad actively encouraged me to go to any college that I wanted, but at the end of the day it was a better fit at Davidson. Coach Frank was a great mentor to me and a good friend of Dad’s.”
Jim ended up having to face his son and Davidson every season. He always had mixed feelings about playing the Wildcats, but the coach would separate himself from the father on those days, if only for a few hours.
Billy spent time as an assistant at Davidson, and earned the job as the assistant for both the men’s and women’s programs at College of Charleston before landing the head job at Richmond last year.
“When working with young people, there’s a lot of gray area,” said Billy. “You want to be right. If I get into one of those situations, I will feel comfortable giving Dad or some of my other friends in coaching a buzz. Dad’s been around the block and there’s no situation that I could encounter that he hasn’t seen.”
Said Jim: “Billy is way ahead of me in terms of knowledge of the game than when I started. He has lots of camp experience. ... Richmond got lucky. He’s a great coach.”
--Provided in part by Charlotte 49ers Sports Information
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