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Jim Blankenship’s 200th Win as Head Coach

Jessica Piland/FGCU Athletics

FGCU’s women’s soccer head coach Jim Blankenship earned his 200th career win at home with a 2-0 win against the University of North Florida on Thursday, Sept. 14.

According to FGCU Athletics, before the start of this season, Blankenship had 436 career wins and ranked sixth among active NCAA Division I coaches. He was named the 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2019 ASUN Coach of the Year. He is now in his 17th season as head coach of the women’s soccer program. Blankenship, along with his wife Patricia, daughter Jordan and son Justin, live in Estero.

Blankenship explains that FGCU has built a reputation over the years, and that he doesn’t feel the need to strongly motivate his players because the motivation is right in front of them.

“I’m pretty driven. I’m high energy. I wouldn’t say it’s easy. It’s hard to win. But you look at the scoreboard and you see all the years, there’s a lot of them out there. Eleven out of 13 is incredibly hard to accomplish, but it also sets a standard. So guys coming in know there’s a responsibility here. There’s an expectation, so I talk to our kids just about, you know, we’re not fully funded. We don’t have all the stuff that the big schools have, but we play them and we have great success against them, because we have to outwork them. It’s very much a blue collar mentality. Very much about the harder you work, the more success you have,” Blankenship said.

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Blankenship said the future of FGCU is in great shape due to a younger core of players. They have the opportunity to develop into a championship team with hard work.

“I love what’s ahead of us. Because obviously, most of it’s unknown, and we get a true opportunity to impact that. Our team is super young. We only have three seniors. And so, in our program last year, we brought in 90 new players. Fourteen were freshmen, so we walked away thinking our foundation was phenomenal. This year, our team starts one senior and they’re all sophomores. I think it has incredible potential if the group continues to want to win, and that inner drive. This team and program has phenomenal opportunities ahead of them. We’ve seen some amazing teams. I honestly think that this group has a chance to move forward down the road to be special again, like so many teams have been here in the past,” Blankenship said.

Ashley Labbe is a junior at FGCU. She has played her entire collegiate career with coach Blankenship. Labbe made the ASUN All-Freshman Team her first semester playing and the All-ASUN First Team twice coming into the season.

“Coach Blankenship is truly the foundation of FGCU soccer. He plays a pivotal and multifaceted role within the FGCU soccer program. His impact extends far beyond the field, influencing both his athletes, and the overall success and culture of the program. He sets the tone for work ethic, discipline, and commitment, which are critical for the program’s success,” Labbe said.

Blankenship finds inspiration in his players and said that coaching soccer means the world to him. He said his players have made a great impact on his life. 

“Everything. You know, blessed to grow up playing a game I loved, and it’s a blast we get to do this every day and we actually get paid to do it. The one thing I love about it, every single day is different. Every single team is different. Every season is different. The challenges, the experiences, they’re absolutely incredible. You come in contact with players, and you get to kind of hopefully influence their lives in a positive way,” he said.

Blankenship said he’s not concerned with his legacy as coach. What matters most is the players, and knowing that they are the reason for FGCU’s success.

“I don’t think about any of that stuff. I love what I do. I love my team. As long as my team knows that I appreciate them for how hard they work, and that the success we have is because of them. I’m good,” he said.

After the milestone win over North Florida, FGCU finished the regular season with an overall record of 10-4-4 and a conference record of 7-1-3. This record was good for third in the ASUN Conference this season as Central Arkansas took second place by virtue of a head-to-head win over FGCU. In addition, six players were named to ASUN All-Conference Teams as Coach Blankenship has now coached 45 all-conference selections throughout his tenure. The Eagles will host a game in the quarterfinals of the 2023 ASUN Women’s Soccer Championship this Sunday, facing the winner of Kennesaw State and Austin Peay. They will be looking to repeat as ASUN champions.

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    Todd JohnstonOct 28, 2023 at 2:09 pm

    Awesome write up Joe.