Jack Bloxom was the ultimate Cardinal.
A one-time assistant basketball coach, Bloxom started the baseball program at North Idaho College, coaching from 1968 to 1997, totaling more than 550 wins.
Bloxom died on Tuesday. He was 80.
“He’s been a fixture in our athletic program for years,” said NIC athletic director Al Williams, who played on the basketball team when Bloxom was an assistant coach in 1978. “He helped push baseball to where it was and is in our Athletic Hall of Fame. When you mention NIC athletics, you’ve got to mention him as one of the legends of our program.”
Growing up in Sandpoint, Bloxom played all sports and enjoyed fishing and hunting. He served as student body president his senior year, set a state record in basketball scoring 37 points in the state tournament, and graduated from Sandpoint High School in 1956.
While attending the University of Idaho, Jack received a bachelor’s degree in 1960, a master’s degree in education in 1963, and lettered three years in baseball.
Paul Manzardo succeeded Bloxom as NIC coach in 1998, and guided the Cardinals through the 2002 season, when the school cut the program.
“When he retired, he was pretty much my mentor when I was at NIC,” Manzardo said. “He’d always help with the field and give me advice on practice plans, and game strategy and we talked a lot of baseball. I was blessed to have him next to me in my coaching years. I was very new at it, and he was well-polished at it.
“Everyone in the baseball community, if you mention Bloxom, they think NIC,” Manzardo added. “He’s a huge legend at NIC and influenced a lot of people that came before and after him.”
Bloxom played on three state championship teams and one regional championship slowpitch softball team. He was selected to the Inland Empire Softball Hall of Fame in 1993, the Sandpoint High School Athletic Hall of Fame in 2004 and the North Idaho College Athletic Hall of Fame in 2010.
After coaching at NIC, Manzardo coached youth baseball for several years. He’s been Lake City’s baseball coach since 2016.
“Jack really taught me about what it’s like to be a baseball coach,” Manzardo said. “It’s not just about throwing out bats and balls. It’s about all the intangibles that go with it. He’s probably the hardest-working coach that I’ve known. I’ve tried to model what I do around him and outwork my opponents. He taught me how to edge a field, and get water and snow off the field.”
In 1987, Bloxom was selected as head coach for the U.S. West baseball team that competed in the U.S. Olympic Festival in Chapel Hill, N.C.
“Even in his later years, he remained active and always considered himself a Cardinal,” Williams said. “He lived and breathed Cardinal athletics until the end, and was always loyal to the program. He coached me when I was here as an athlete, and I consider him a mentor and life-long friend.”
Services will be at 2 p.m. on Saturday at Yates Funeral Home — Coeur d’Alene Chapel, 744 N. Fourth St., Coeur d’Alene, with burial to follow at Riverview Cemetery in Coeur d’Alene.