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It’s all in the family

EN Photo / Brad Young

What started 19 years ago, has now become a family tradition.

In his career, there may be tough losses and sensational wins, but the biggest win for FGCU women’s soccer head coach Jim Blankenship is in the close-knit relationship he shares with his family.

If anyone knows the FGCU women’s soccer head coach, they know there is always one specific person by his side during every home game: his son. Nearly two decades have gone by, and Jim Blankenship continues this ritual.

When asked how long they have carried out this tradition, Jim Blankenship responded, “Ever since he was born, I used to carry him as a baby on my hip to any games. This is my 10th year at FGCU, and even at my schools before, I would do the same.”

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However, this tradition goes beyond just Jim Blankenship and his son, Justin, it also affects the entire Blankenship family. Jim Blankenship’s dedication to his family was the driving force behind this custom.

“It’s a big part of our family, and we’re all really close,” Jim Blankenship said. “So, that connection is important.”

Aside from just home games, the son and family have also traveled to away games just to keep up the strong bond they have created over the past 19 years.

“I’ve traveled with the team multiple times, all the games that require buses, and I don’t miss any school days; I’m going,” Justin Blankenship said.

Beyond just attending the games with his dad, Justin Blankenship also finds that sitting alongside his dad is beneficial to him for his future plans.

“Learning the ropes is a privilege, and maybe later on in life, if I want to do this as a career, I’ve learned from one of the best,” Justin Blankenship said. “I’m under his wing, so I feel more connected. I have a long way to go if I do decide to pursue this career, but maybe, in five years, if the opportunity comes.”

A transfer from Florida SouthWestern, Justin is happy to be at FGCU and to have the opportunity to help out his dad, and the team, in any way possible.

“I used to play soccer, but when we moved here I stopped,” Justin Blankenship said. “Then, I used to just come to the soccer camps and did some things to help out with the team.”

Family is an integral part of the Blankenships’ ideals, and this seemingly small tradition has brought the family closer together.

“Doing this as a profession, it eats up a lot of time from your family and the recruiting component of it, so I’m blessed that the whole family is heavily involved,” Jim Blankenship said. “Family time is important to us.”

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