SUU to Everywhere

John Sudbury (’73)

John Sudbury (’73) | SUU to Accountant, Coach, and Jazz Fan


Originally published on May 13, 2020.

John Sudbury is many things to many people: football player, coach, accountant, die-hard Utah Jazz fan, friend, and family man. And, this man has heart.

Following in the footsteps of his brothers, John came to SUU (Southern Utah State College at the time) in 1969 on a football scholarship from Cyprus High School in Magna, Utah. He played defensive tackle for the Thunderbirds under the tutelage of famed mentor Tom Kingsford, who John describes as an “amazing coach.” He has fond memories of living in the dorms with his teammates, and vividly remembers playing Adams State (Colorado) for the conference championship and recording seven quarterback sacks.

Young John Sudbury in Football Gear

When he arrived on campus, John didn’t know a soul but he quickly developed a wide circle of friends that enriches his life even today. He also credits his alma mater with helping him develop as a person and to learn new things about himself. And, he adds, “SUU gave me confidence.”

John earned a bachelor of arts degree in Business Administration with a German minor in 1973, and embarked on a career in the business world where he excelled as an accountant for finance and home building companies. He tried retirement a couple of years ago, but opted to go back to the accounting world where he now works four days a week.

But it was sports—particularly football—that added an elevating dimension to his post-college life that he says “kept him alive.”

After graduation, John embarked on a 46-year football coaching career that began at the little league level before moving to the high school ranks as coach of his alma mater, Cyprus High School. Through those years he coached thousands of young men and considered each his own “adopted” child, which is especially poignant considering John did not have children of his own.

A 2018 Big Ocean online article shares insights into John’s approach as a coach, mentor, and his caring influence on the lives of his athletes.

One such insight was that John gave each player on his Pirate teams a new pair of socks with instructions to wash those socks and wear them at each game. John was taught by his father, an outstanding mentor and coach in his own right, that a team played like it looked and John wanted his teams to look successful so that his players could feel successful.

John also gained fame as one of the Utah Jazz’ most ardent and vocal fans, and made regular appearances on the jumbotron. He had third row season tickets for 37 years, and gained notoriety for his expressive antics (which never got personal) and was featured several times in Salt Lake City newspapers.

Over those 37 years, he became well acquainted with numerous Jazzmen, but his favorites include Adrian Dantley, Rickey Green, Kent Benson, Mark Eaton, John Stockton, Karl Malone, Jeff Hornacek, Memo Okur, Derek Favors, and Joe Ingles.

In 1991, he married Jackie Hess, and with true John Sudbury humor he says he proposed because she was the only one that said “yes” to a second date. His marriage also made him father to then 10-year old Melinda, and the pair immediately transformed John’s life and enlarged an already big and caring heart.

Today, he and Jackie enjoy their semi-retired life, and can often be found in their seats at Cyprus High football games with two grandsons in tow.

Learn more about SUU’s Business Administration program.