James A. Payne

About This Inductee

Jim was a hometown boy all the way. He graduated from Wilkes-Barre High School in 1925 and retired from Wilkes-Barre’s Coughlin High School as a physical education educator in 1972. At Wilkes-Barre High School, he was a member of their first swim team in 1924. He also played basketball and was a member of the track team. He participated on seven championship YMCA swim teams and captained two of them. During 1924 and 1925 he functioned as assistant physical education director of the Wilkes-Barre YMCA. After graduation he attended East Stroudsburg State Teachers’ College, graduating in 1933. He was a defensive back on the football team, co-captain of the basketball team and held many track records for over 30 years. He was a two-time PA State Teachers’ college champion in the 100 yard dash in 1931 and 1932. He began teaching and coaching physical education at Coughlin in 1934. Jim was drafted into the Navy during World War II and spent some time at Denison University in Granville, OH training Navy and Marine recruits. He was a U.S.N.R. Specialist in Athletics. While at Denison he coached the University basketball team, completing a 14 win, 4 loss season in 1945 against teams such as Bowling Green, Ohio University, Miami of Ohio, etc. After the war he returned to Wilkes-Barre and resumed teaching at Coughlin. He was an assistant coach under football coaches Red Pendergast, Joe Peel and Joe Moran. After his football coaching ended, he became the official timer at Wilkes-Barre Memorial Stadium. His first love was basketball, however, and he was head basketball coach during the 1950s to mid-1960s. He also kept in contact with track by being a track official.