Part of Jim Colberts Legacy lies in his seven-dimensions of wellness, which helped bring balance to his life. Photo courtesy of City College Athletics Department.
Part of Jim Colbert’s Legacy lies in his “seven-dimensions of wellness,” which helped bring balance to his life. Photo courtesy of City College Athletics Department.

The Man of the Knight

San Diego City College is honoring coach, educator, and mentor, Jim Colbert as a Knight whose legacy will shine bright in the hearts, minds and spirits of the campus community. Colbert passed away from brain cancer on Sept. 18 at age 73.

Colbert, an educator and motivator for 23 years, used his fearless approach to “inspire and encourage people to pursue fitness,” said Kathy McGinnis, City College dean of health, exercise science and athletics, a career-long colleague and friend.

McGinnis witnessed the impact Colbert made with those with whom he crossed paths with and felt his presence that beamed with a positive energy and a genuine protectiveness for those he came in contact with. Colbert was the recipient of the annual distinguished Golden Apple Faculty Award, which is an awarded to an outstanding faculty member and voted for by City College students.

Coach Colbert had a strong work ethic that drove him to improve the facilities at City, offer more class sections and bolster the Athletics Department. McGinnis said that “… his courageous and bright insights enabled him to think quickly on his feet and allowed him to see people for who they were as opposed to what they were.”

“The bonding and love for students are just a fraction of what describes the man,” said current adjunct coach Alan Rivera, a longtime protégé of Coach Colbert for the past 10 years.

“The chemistry built within the combat community is the ultimate link that drew the two of us together,” Rivera said.

The combat community consists of the connections and relationships built outside of the collegiate field, such as membership with the Martial Arts America program. This program has been a very meaningful arena of Colbert’s life and has bolstered his academic credibility, knowledge and qualifications as an overall martial artist.

Colbert is a well-respected and supported figure within the combat and martial arts community as a third-degree black belt in Okinawan Goju-ryu karate. Some of the classes Colbert offered included weight training, individual conditioning, fitness activities, water aerobics, kickboxing and self-defense. Rivera felt that he was mentored by Colbert, which went beyond any attendance in his classes. This was for him “… the beginning stages of cultivating an organic successor” to Colbert’s teachings, according to Rivera.

Colbert’s mantra of putting students first, along with his conviction and leadership, motivated Rivera to excel in his college years when Colbert took him under his wing. In maintaining charge of his traditions for teaching, Colbert was able to uphold and deliver “… a genuine and sound philosophy that individuals can embrace and find meaning in,” Rivera said.

According to fundamental teachings of health, Colbert practiced and followed the “seven dimensions of wellness,” which by doing so allowed him to maintain a balance in his own life. The “seven dimensions” are mental, physical, social, occupational, spiritual, emotional and environmental wellness. By following these, one could begin to see a “…visible and tangible sense of guidance,” Rivera said.

Whether it was his football expertise on the field, his assistance in the weight room, or his wealth of knowledge in the martial arts and self-defense classroom, Colbert never shied away from a learning experience. Colbert’s top-notch teachings translated in any space without limitations, no matter where the lessons were being taught. Every room was a “Room of Encouragement,” painted on the wall of his martial arts classroom located in the P-building next to the Harry West Gymnasium.

“Each aspect seemed as though it was a chronicle component of Colbert, the athlete and the caretaker who devoted each moment and transmitted them into an educational one for others,” Rivera said.

For coach Andi Milburn, Colbert was someone that she and others could relate to as a paternal figure and friend, gained through the tight-knit atmosphere created within the athletics department. Through “… tough love or reciprocal teaching,” Milburn expressed how immensely appreciative she is of the helpful methods and wisdom Colbert gave her.

“The positive teachings [that] Coach Colbert shined onto his students is when he would be reaching out to a diverse class or group of individuals, and while always motivating them, it allowed them to realize their strengths and challenge their limitations as opposed to deterring them, which is what inspired me,” Milburn said.

Coach Colbert’s philosophies are preached and praised by students and faculty, who demonstrate the positive outlook in life lessons that will be admired and instilled in future generations.

The spirit and legacy that Colbert provided the campus community will be honored through those he inspired with the newly created Jim Colbert Scholarship. This annually funded scholarship will be awarded with the intention to inspire strength and success as Colbert did throughout his life. For more information about the Jim Colbert Scholarship, contact Dean Kathy McGinnis or follow updates made on the Jim Colbert Scholarship Facebook page at

Former colleagues continue to honor Colbert by teaching students how to be aware of their surroundings, do the right thing and to always be honest with themselves, which are just a few friendly and priceless little notes of encouragement Colbert used to leave on other coaches’ doors before and after games.

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The Man of the Knight