From the ‘World’s Most Famous Arena’ to Funkytown, the Maggie Dixon Classic has a new home

Jamie Dixon couldn’t be more excited about a premier women’s basketball event named after his late sister finding a new home in Fort Worth.

The 13th Maggie Dixon Classic between TCU and Army is set for 2 p.m. Sunday at Schollmaier Arena. The MDC had been a staple for signature non-conference women’s games at New York’s Madison Square Garden, billed as the “World’s Most Famous Arena” for nine years, but the time had come for it to find a new home, a new market.

After one-year stints in Queens, N.Y. (2016) and College Station (2017), Fort Worth made sense given that Jamie is now coaching the TCU men’s team. A change in venue should bring new excitement for the event, too.

“The Garden was special to us, it was great, but with the move down here and times goes on, it seems like a great thing to be in Fort Worth,” said Jamie, who played at TCU from 1984-87 before becoming its head coach prior to the 2016-17 season.

“The first basketball Maggie probably remembers is watching me play at TCU. I was 17 when I came here, she was 5, so I’m sure she remembers going to watch the games at the local pizza parlor to watch on the satellite at the bar. It was the only way you could get them back in the day. I think this move makes sense.

“This event is important to women’s basketball. It’s a premier game. It has name recognition and that’s why we want to keep it going.”

As stated, it makes sense because Jamie is now coaching at TCU. And it makes sense that the Lady Frogs will be facing Army, the school Maggie led to the NCAA Tournament in her first season as head coach before suddenly passing of heart arrhythmia at age 28 in April 2006.

Current Army coach Dave Magarity served as an assistant on Maggie’s staff.

A piece of trivia Jamie likes to share is that his sister, Maggie, became the first basketball coach in Army history to lead a men’s or women’s team to the NCAA Tournament. A pretty impressive feat considering the Army men’s coaching tree includes names such as Bob Knight and Mike Krzyzewski.

“Bobby Knight and Mike Krzyzewski couldn’t, but Maggie Dixon did it,” Jamie said, smiling. “Army and West Point is a special place for our family. Maggie was only there for six months, but they’ve made us feel part of their family and part of West Point from the day we got there until today. There’s no question it’s good to get it started down here and it’s good to get it started with Army being part of it.”

Jamie is excited with how well the event has been received so far by the community and school. TCU women’s coach Raegan Pebley was friends with Maggie early in her coaching days, and understands the prestige of the event.

“It’s an honor to be a part of anything that Maggie Dixon’s name is associated with,” Pebley said. “Maggie represented everything that is great about sport, and definitely women’s basketball. Her infectious enthusiasm, commitment to the game and her servant-leadership are almost unparalleled. We are thankful for the opportunity to be involved with the Maggie Dixon Classic for the second year in a row.”

Additionally, TCU and UNT Health Science Center School of Medicine is partnering with the Maggie Dixon Foundation to host a Heart Health Fair before the game. Activities will include a “Kids Heart Challenge” jump-rope booth, blood pressure checks, automated external defibrillator (AED) training and other heart-healthy stations.

Before the game, TCU will present the classic’s “Heart Hero Award” to the school’s director of athletic training, Matt Herrill, former director of sports medicine, Chris Hall, and former basketball player Johnny Pate.

Herrill and Hall helped save the life of Pate, who collapsed during the TCU men’s basketball alumni game earlier this year. Herrill and Hall resuscitated Pate through the use of CPR and a nearby AED.

“Johnny, Matt and Chris are going to be the honorees and that’s a big part of the heart health awareness,” Jamie said. “Knowing what to do in a situation and Matt and Chris did. My sister was in great health and had no issue, sometimes these things just happen.

“If there would’ve been an AED nearby and someone knew how to use it, someone may have been able to save her life. That’s why Johnny, Matt and Chris are a part of it.”

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