VSA, St. Al swim coach Mixon leaving for new job at season’s end

Published 8:00 am Friday, September 7, 2018

After 10 years in and around the pools of Vicksburg, Mathew Mixon is swimming his final laps.

The longtime coach of the Vicksburg Swim Association and St. Aloysius high school teams has accepted a job with the Sunkist club team in Flowood. He’ll finish out the season with both of his current teams — St. Al has two meets left and the VSA one — before starting with Sunkist in October.

His farewell tour will start Saturday afternoon with the St. Aloysius Invitational at City Pool.

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“It was a real tough decision. I got a phone call. It wasn’t anything I applied for, and an offer was made. It was not a decision we made right away,” Mixon said. “Leaving Vicksburg was one of the hardest parts of the decision. I’ve always been an advocate of Vicksburg and love this community.”

Mixon coached St. Al to back-to-back runner-up finishes at the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools Overall State Meet the past two seasons. His work with the VSA’s youth teams laid the foundation for that success.

Since he was hired in 2008, the VSA’s membership has nearly tripled under Mixon. He’s had several state champions at the Mississippi Swimming State Meet, and his VSA swimmers often excelled in the high school ranks as well. The VSA’s “Killer Whales” club team finished sixth in the team standings at this year’s state meet, the best among Mississippi’s smaller teams.

Sunkist is one of the five upper division teams, with about 150 swimmers on the roster. The VSA has around 90.

Mixon said turning the VSA into a state power was his biggest accomplishment on a competitive front, and simply growing the roster and teaching swimming was tops on a personal level.

“I would probably say I’m most proud of swimming being a household name in Vicksburg. The base is big. The team has grown from 30 to 90 people, and we’ve gone from dead last to sixth in the state,” Mixon said. “I am sad to leave Vicksburg. I definitely had a great run, and left it better than I found it. Coaches who are good coaches like to win, but they like to be good mentors and leaders as well. I’ve had a chance to touch so many lives through swimming. That’s the thing that’s most rewarding.”

Before starting his new job, Mixon has a few things to take care of in his old ones. The VSA will host the Afton Strong Meet Sept. 22 at City Pool, in memory of the late Afton Wallace who died of cancer in 2015. Wallace was a member of the VSA.

He’ll also guide St. Al through the MAIS state meet Sept. 19 in Cleveland, and this Saturday in one of the biggest high school meets of the year. Nearly 350 swimmers from 16 teams in Mississippi and Louisiana will descend on City Pool for the St. Aloysius Invitational. The meet begins at noon and admission is $5.

Besides having a steady date on the calendar and a reputation as a well-run meet, the Invitational’s popularity stems from hitting a sweet spot in the schedule for teams in both the MAIS and Mississippi High School Activities Association.

For MAIS teams, it’s a chance to face good competition and push themselves just before the state meet. For MHSAA teams whose state meet isn’t until late October, it’s the first major meet of the season and provides a good baseline to judge their talent.

“It serves both the MAIS and MHSAA teams well,” Mixon said. “It’ll be good for the St. Al guys to get a tune-up before the state meet. It’ll hopefully shoot us into race mode. We had a meet Tuesday against Hartfield, but this will be a little more competition. I can move kids to different events and play with the relay order. I can look at some strategy to get ready for the state meet.”

Saturday, Noon, at City Pool
Admission: $5
Sixteen teams and nearly 350 swimmers will participate, including St. Aloysius, Warren Central and Vicksburg High. City Pool is closed to the public for swimming on Saturday.

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 140-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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