Group photo at Linthicum Scholarship Ceremony
Group photo at Linthicum Scholarship Ceremony

Alumni Create a Legacy in Honor of De Anza Track and Field Coach Jim Linthicum

Coaches change lives, and Jim Linthicum was no exception. Coach Linthicum, affectionately known as "JL," was an anchor at De Anza from the time the college opened in 1967 to his retirement in 2004. JL started teaching at Foothill in 1965 before moving to De Anza as part of the inaugural staff. He taught physical education, coached football and tennis, and then coached track and cross country for 34 years.

During his tenure, JL trained, mentored, and counseled generations of student athletes. His impact resonated far beyond the realm of athletics, shaping the lives of countless students who continue to carry his legacy. So much so, that when JL passed away in 2022, De Anza alums, friends and family pooled their resources to establish a $25,000 scholarship endowment in his name to support track and field students who intend to transfer to a four-year university.

One group of alums in particular came together to memorialize their beloved coach. In 1974, for the first time in the college’s cross country history, De Anza took first place in the NorCal championship. De Anza alums Paul Frederickson, Hank Lawson and Dirk Rohloff were part of that winning team and continue to hold top performance records for De Anza to this day.

Hank Lawson and Jim Linthicum
Hank Lawson and Jim Linthicum


Frederickson wasn’t sure what direction his life would take before he landed at De Anza College at the age of 19. Participating in De Anza’s cross country program enabled him to get an athletic scholarship and changed the trajectory of his whole life. He credits JL with always encouraging the team to put as much hard work and effort into their academics as they did their athletics.

“None of the things that I’ve done would have happened without Coach Linthicum and the cross-country team,” Fredrickson said. “College athletics are important. The skills you learn in athletics often translate to academics.”

When Frederickson found out about the effort to establish the scholarship, he knew he wanted to support De Anza and honor Linthicum’s legacy by paying it back. “I knew I couldn’t be like Coach Linthicum at the age I was, but I knew I wanted to be like that when I was an ‘adult,’” Frederickson said.

Hank Lawson, Lynnbrook High School's cross-country and track coach since 1994, considered JL a mentor and dear friend. Lawson, a programmer, is a lifelong runner who is also active in community theater.

He recounts JL’s most cherished tradition, the annual De Anza Invite Track & Field Meet, where alumni and current athletes race against each other. After each year’s event, JL would open his house up to the alumni and athletes, always building camaraderie among anyone who was fortunate to be coached by him. Today, De Anza honors JL not only with the scholarship but also with the Jim Linthicum Invitational, a fitting tribute to his enduring legacy.

La Voz Cross Country Photo
                         Excerpted from Nov. 22 1974 La Voz, De Anza's student newspaper


Roloff came to De Anza as a freshman out of high school. He wasn’t sure he wanted to continue running, but JL talked him into joining the team.

Reflecting on a visit with JL before his death, Roloff said, “We talked for a few hours, and he brought up a race that I ran in Bakersfield in the 70s. That was more than 50 years ago, and he still remembered it. That’s the kind of person he was, someone who was present for his students.”

“I wanted Coach to be recognized and not forgotten. He was a mentor, not just to me, but to a lot of young athletes,” Roloff said.

After attending De Anza, Roloff transferred to UC Davis and graduated with a degree in biological sciences. While there, he met Joe Mangan, the De Anza alum who spearheaded the fundraising effort.

Mangan, who ran cross-country at De Anza in 1976, fondly remembers JL and the impact he had on his life. Mangan began coaching in 1981 at Homestead High School in Cupertino. He went on to coach at Foothill College and Indiana University before moving to College of San Mateo, where he served as head coach for more than 20 years.

In June of 2023, the first $1,000 Linthicum scholarship was given to Maezie, an aspiring orthodontist who is transferring to UC San Diego to work on a degree in human biology. Laura Ne, JL’s daughter, presented the award to Maezie at a special celebration held prior to De Anza’s Student Athlete Ceremony, which Hank Lawson and Joe Mangan attended with members of JL’s family. It was an emotional and fitting tribute to the coach with an everlasting smile and kindness that will live on, thanks to all who helped to create the scholarship endowment.

JL’s legacy serves as an inspiration for future generations of athletes and coaches, reminding us of the transformative power of sport and the profound impact of a dedicated mentor.