Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

Townspeople

October 11, 2012

Dalton column: Old friends, legends Hixon and Collins

Wil Hixon, Andover’s great basketball coach and a principal of Andover High School, has a wonderful history. Brought up in a small town north of Plymouth, N.H., he graduated at age 16 with excellent grades and no thoughts of going to college in spite of his parents’ wishes and the high school principal’s arguments. Instead he chose to work in a bobbin factory where many of his fellow townspeople worked, including a lot of people he grew up with.

While in high school, Hixon was an all-around athlete but excellent in baseball, a sport he continued to play while working in the factory. The Plymouth State College baseball coach kept an eye on Hixon and convinced Wil to come to come to Plymouth State and play ball. He was so good that the coach played him wherever Wil was needed, so he played second, shortstop, and third, while always swinging a hot bat. Several of his mill worker friends, some colorful, came to the games and cheered loudly for Plymouth State but especially for Wil. Among the halls of fame that have honored Hixon is Plymouth State’s, where he was inducted as both a baseball player and as a high school coach.

After graduating, Wil started his teaching and coaching career at Raymond then Plymouth, N.H. In six years he won two state basketball titles and missed a third because of a fluke. With seconds left and his team down by a point, a perfect pass to one of Wil’s players should have lead to an easy lay up and victory except that, when the player turned around to head for the basket, the referee was inexplicably in the way causing the player to fall and the team to lose. In the locker room later, the referee cried, knowing he had cost a team a state title.

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