Sports

Portrait

Photograph by Jamie Betts

From Dick Tarrant’s men’s basketball teams knocking off powerhouses in the 1980s to the 2008 Spider football national champions, Jim Croxton, B’68, has seen it all. He’s one of Richmond’s longest-tenured season ticket holders.

Croxton and his wife, Sarah, W’69, are regulars at Spider athletics events, traveling in for games from their hometown of Tappahannock, Virginia, where Jim has co-owned Riverland Insurers for 42 years.

His Spider pride has deep roots that were planted while he was a student and sprouted quickly after graduation. While serving in the U.S. Army at Fort Jackson in Columbia, South Carolina, just after graduation, Croxton was home for the holidays when the football team notched the only postseason bowl-game victory in Richmond history, the 1968 Tangerine Bowl.

“They shut the camp down, so I was able to watch the game,” Croxton said. “Actually, I bought a new TV and watched it.”

Since then, Croxton has returned to campus to watch Richmond athletics through the ups and downs of the respective programs. Though he’s an ardent supporter of the teams, his loyalty is inspired even more by the satisfaction he takes in seeing the university thrive.

“Being such a small school and then seeing it achieve success over the years has been great,” he said. “When I went there, it was just a small Baptist school. To see it take off the way that it has over the years makes me proud.”

Getting real-world insight from business school faculty who worked at local companies like A.H. Robins and Reynolds Metals instilled an appreciation for his Richmond education within Croxton. The time he spent outside of the classroom made an equally strong impression: Croxton has been meeting with a group of his fraternity brothers to tailgate before Spider football games for more than four decades.

While he jokes that “there’s not a whole lot to do on Saturdays in Tappahannock in the winters,” Croxton’s deep connection to the university is why he’s more than happy to make the two-hour round trip every weekend.

“Just the socializing, that’s the main thing,” he said. “We’ve enjoyed the teams over the years and watching kids develop. I’ve seen a few of them go to the pros.”

Croxton passed on the Spider tradition when his son, Travis Croxton, ’97, enrolled.

“I was very happy to have my son go to the University of Richmond and very proud that he graduated from there,” Jim Croxton said. “When he was a little kid, we took him to all the football games, so he grew up watching Spiders play.”

His stepdaughter Tara Hamilton Bennett, ’97, and daughter-in-law Kristi Tiemann Croxton, ’99, are also Spiders. At this point, Richmond athletics has earned enough credibility — aided by these family connections — that Jim Croxton is even beginning to step outside of his comfort zone.

“I’ve gone to several lacrosse matches. I’m just getting interested in that. My grandchildren are playing the sport, so I’m trying to understand the game — or the match, or whatever they call it,” he said, laughing.