Coach Michael Claxton began working at Seattle Academy in 2006 after moving to Seattle from Germany where he had spent the previous years playing professional basketball. Claxton began work at Seattle Academy as a PE teacher and as the Seattle Academy Head Boys’ Varsity Basketball coach. Now after eight years as head coach Claxton is returning to Germany to coach the SC Rist Wedel Basketball Organization in the greater Hamburg area, a club that he played for in 2004-05. As the SAAS community says goodbye to Coach Claxton it is important to remember his legacy. Coach Claxton has certainly left his mark on Seattle Academy basketball. In his tenure at SAAS Coach Claxton transformed a relatively unknown basketball program into a dominant force that was fundamentally strong, emphasized defense, and was dynamic offensively. In his time as head coach Claxton led the Cardinals to four Emerald City League titles including the school’s first ever boys’ basketball league title in 2009. Further successes include an undefeated season in 2013 and a school record 20 straight wins.
This season the team made it to the semifinals of the state tournament in Yakima placing 5th, the best finish in school history. Claxton has coached the school’s all-time leaders in scoring, assists, and shots blocked. Over the past two seasons the team has gone undefeated in the Emerald City League winning back to back titles.
While discussing the evolution of the program during his tenure Coach Claxton said, “One of the things that I’m appreciative of is the commitment level, from the players and the families, because when we started here, there was some learning that had to be done in terms of the level of commitment that was required to be a successful program. It used to be that key players would be gone over winter break and I am grateful that the players and families learned to commit to a full season of basketball.”
But beyond successes on the court, Coach Claxton was a mentor to many that had the pleasure of playing for him. The passion and intensity he brought to the program kick-started the confidence that was necessary to compete at a high level. Those who have played for Coach Claxton have only praise to share about their coach.
Alex Scoggins ’14 said, “It was a pleasure playing under Coach Claxton for my first year on varsity. He helped me develop the skills needed to acquire a starting spot and the Newcomer of the Year Award. He is a great coach and I wish him the best in Germany.”
SAAS alumni Andrew Newsome ’12 stated, “He was both a great coach and role-model. He took what was a pretty unknown program to new heights where the expectation was to compete for a state title every year. He established a new culture and a new era of SAAS Basketball and his work ethic and commitment to the program was amazing. I wish him the best on his new endeavors.”
Coach Claxton turned the program into a powerhouse. He instituted grade checks and dress codes for game days to keep players serious and focused. He instilled a fierce determination to compete and will to win.
When asked how he felt about leaving Coach Claxton discussed how much gratitude he has towards SAAS and how much he has appreciated being a part of the Seattle Academy family. Claxton wanted to express his appreciation to everyone at Seattle Academy for being a part of his second home. He said, “I feel blessed and have nothing but positive thoughts [of SAAS] as I leave this community…This was one of the best times of my life and I’m very thankful for the opportunity that Seattle Academy gave me and the buy in and support from all the players and the parents.”
Despite our disappointment in losing a fantastic coach, this coaching job in Germany is a lifetime dream for Coach Claxton and a tremendous opportunity for him and his family. In his email to upper school boys’ basketball program, Claxton stated, “I will forever be grateful for all the lasting relationships, experiences, and memories that have been created here at Seattle Academy, and will also dearly miss our basketball family.”
Michael Claxton’s influence on the entire SAAS basketball program has been vital to its growth; we will miss his leadership and wisdom immensely. Coach Claxton, thank you for the eight wonderful years you spent teaching and coaching at Seattle Academy, from all of us, have a wonderful time in Germany.