Greater Knoxville Hall of Fame recognizes FHS dominance
Lynn E. Sexton’s time as tennis coach at Maryville College, in the late 1950s, wasn’t exactly the catalyst propelling him into Greater Knoxville Sports Hall of Fame, Class of 2016.
“They got me coaching tennis one year, and it was a joke because I was not a tennis player. … I drove them to the matches and sat back and watched them,” said Sexton, whose fame is based on 544 career basketball wins as Farragut High School varsity boys basketball head coach, three state tournament appearances and East Tennessee dominance from 1977 through 1983.
That came during 30 seasons as Admirals skipper (1961-62 through 1990-91).
Sexton’s best seasons ran from 1977 through 1983: 36-1 in 1982-83 (state semifinal appearance), 32-2 in 1981-82, 29-5 in 1980-81, 28-5 in 1979-80 (state tourney appearance), 29-6 in 1978-79 and 28-7 in 1977-78 (state tourney appearance).
Once his program began playing at least 30 games a season, starting in the 1969-70 season, Sexton’s teams won 20 or more games 14 times.
Sexton and nine other Knoxville area sports honorees will be inducted into Greater Knoxville Sports Hall of Fame during a ceremony Tuesday evening, July 26, in Knoxville Convention Center.
“He is Farragut basketball, he built the program,” Donald Dodgen, FHS athletic director, said about a coach who was a mentor to Dodgen during his time as Admirals’ varsity boys head coach (1996-97 through 2009-10). “He’s loyal, honest, hard working. Just a gentleman.
“I always tried to talk to him and try to pick his brain,” Dodgen added. “I used to always have him speak to the team before big games like Bearden, Maryville, Hardin Valley games. We named the gym after him and the dressing room after him.”
“My senior year [1982-83 season], if I’m not mistaken, was our seventh district title in a row,” said Jack Williams, a former guard who helped lead the Admirals to its 36-1 record and state tournament appearance in 1983. “Coach Sexton certainly did a terrific job.
“He was great at game planning, we were always well prepared and fundamentally sound,” added Williams, an assistant under FHS boys varsity skipper Chris Cool.
“A very soft-spoken coach. But he didn’t have to say a lot. He certainly had the respect of all his players. We’ve certainly grown to appreciate him more as we’ve grown.”
Sexton ended up at FHS after coaching, along with other duties, at Maryville College in the late 1950s and early 1960s.
“I was a proctor at two dorms, lived in one of them with my wife [Patricia] and our son,” Sexton said. “And I was an intramural director.
“After two years of taking care of dorms, I was ready to do something different,” Sexton added about coming to FHS. “I went to down to see Mrs. [Mildred] Doyle, who was superintendent at that time. … I interviewed with her, and she sent me down to Farragut because they were looking for a coach. Sent me down there to see Kenneth Sergeant, who was principal at that time.
“I interviewed with him and got the job.”
Sexton was a 1951 graduate of Friendsville Academy and three-sport athlete at Maryville College (Class of 1955), which included two seasons as a starting guard in basketball.
However, “I guess my best sport was baseball, I started all four years in the outfield,” Sexton said. “I was captain my senior year.”
Sexton was drafted into the U.S. Army in March 1956 and served for 17 months. His highest rank was specialist 3rd class.
A physical education and driver’s education teacher at FHS, Sexton also served as Admirals varsity baseball head coach from the 1963 through 1969 seasons. “I helped one year with freshman football the first year I was there,” Sexton said.
Dodgen said he and Sexton go back about 40 years. “We had our masters programs together at UT, that’s where I met him in 1976, ’77,” Dodgen said.
While Dodgen was head coach at McMinn County High School from 1975 to 1983, “Lynn and I went to the state tournament the same year in 1983,” Dodgen said. “We used to scrimmage each other in the late 70s and early 80s.”