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John Sexton is a name that is synonymous with Union County basketball, but it is another one of his hobbies that has occupied this former Eagle’s time over the last couple of years.
After graduating from West Union in 2007, Sexton had brief stints playing ball at William and Mary in Virginia as well as Northeast before he decided to pursue his other hobby: poker.
“Growing up, I always watched it on TV and me and my buddies played a lot in high school,” Sexton said of his early poker playing days. “We played a few times a month, and pretty much whenever we had some free time. Once I turned 21, I went to some casinos and did well. I mean, what 21-year-old is going to turn down an opportunity to make some good money doing something they really enjoy?”
Burned out from basketball, Sexton pursued poker full time, playing online and in various tournaments across the nation. Traveling to Las Vegas, St. Louis, Chicago and Miami, among other places, Sexton lived a life many dream of, experiencing the chaotic big city life, but it was nothing he was not already used to growing up.
“It wasn’t too different for me since I grew up in Memphis before I moved to Union County,” he said.
“I’ve always kind of been a big city guy at heart, but it still is so different to see these massive cities and experience their culture, and it still amazes me to go to Chicago and Vegas and ask for sweet tea only to have people give me a weird look.”
While his time playing poker has been enjoyable, his first visit back to the basketball court was not, and it was that experience that led him back to practicing in preparation for one last run in the game.
“I got a call from a buddy of mine who was playing in an adult league in Memphis, and I figured it would be fun to go back out on the court and play some,” Sexton said. “Keep in mind this was the first time in over a year that I had even touched a basketball, and I played that way. It was horrible. Being as competitive as I am, that motivated me instantly to not only take up the game again, but check my eligibility and see if I can’t go back and finish school.”
Working on his game for over a year, Sexton now has that chance, as he is set to complete his collegiate career at Tennessee Tech in Cookeville, Tenn. He joins a Golden Eagle squad that went 20-13 in 2010, falling short of winning the Ohio Valley Conference Championship.
“I went up there last month to take a class and make sure everything was squared away with my eligibility,” he said. “It’s a great school, and I’ve had the chance to get to know some of the guys. I’m excited for the opportunity to join them and hopefully help them be successful.”
Sexton is also working to finish his degree in business management and also hopes to eventually get an MBA, once he’s through with basketball and poker, of course.
“It’s great to be back,” he said. “Once I got to Northeast, I was pretty burned out, and I had a good break, but I’m ready and thankful to have a second lease with basketball. I’m in the best shape of my life, and I wish I was this well off when I played in high school. I’m ready to hit the court again and see where this takes me.”