Love in the Paint: James Hogan ’88 and Sherry Hogan ’90 ’93MA

As the daughter of a professional baseball player, Sherry Asplen Hogan ’90 ’93MA knew a thing or two about sports. Growing up in central Florida, Sherry was a standout basketball player at Lake Brantley High School. She was heavily recruited by colleges outside Florida, but she always knew she wanted to go to UCF.

James Hogan ’88 was also a standout athlete at Palm Coast High School in Flagler County, where he lettered in three sports. He, perhaps, did not take the games quite so seriously as his future wife did.

He had gone to a couple colleges to play football, basketball, and baseball, but none of them were quite the right fit. He thought he would fit right in with Bobby Bowden’s Seminoles. When that didn’t work out, UCF’s legendary Gene McDowell (1939-2021) scooped the punter right up.

“It may have taken me a while to become a Knight,” Jim says. “But I finally was where I needed to be.”

In 1986, UCF was still a small-town college. It was a commuter school, sure, and the student union hadn’t even been built yet.

But on that Valentine’s Day in 1986, James Hogan did not have football on his mind. He went over to the gym near the education building, looking to practice his free throws, or maybe join a pickup game.

There, he saw Sherry Hogan, draining three-pointer after three- pointer. He warmed up with her for a while, each taking turns, with Jim planning his next move.

“How about a game of HORSE?” Jim asked. “If you win, I’ll take you out to dinner.”

In HORSE, the player who is up next can design the shot – “Stand on one foot from the corner of the free-throw line with your eyes closed and make a basket” – or something equally silly. If you miss the shot, you get an “H,” and so on until the first player (the loser) spells the word HORSE.

Sherry was amused – and possibly intrigued and a little annoyed. She wasn’t necessarily looking for a dinner date for the evening, but she was for sure looking forward to the possibility of taking this guy to school. Sherry would go on to hold UCF’s three-point shooting record for 15 years. This was going to be fun.

At 6 foot 3, Jim did have a height advantage over Sherry, who stood at 5 foot 8. But when it came to shooting, Sherry had game.

“Of course,” Jim says, “I was planning on LETTING her win, but she beat me, and I had make sure she didn’t beat me too bad.”

Jim remembers that he had to work hard to keep up with Sherry. Sherry remembers that she felt Jim was holding back. Sherry, of course, was victorious, and the two spent their first date at an Olive Garden in Winter Park. It’s a Valentines’ anniversary they have commemorated every year since then.

Jim also surprised Sherry by proposing before a UCF football game. As the cheerleaders unfurled the traditional banner to mark the entrance of the team, Sherry noticed that on it was written a proposal to her from Jim.

“Ever since that day, not one minute has gone by without me being grateful for all UCF has given me,” Jim Hogan says. Jim and Sherry and their sons, Beau’14 and Chase’17, have named their group text messaging the UCF Knights Squad.

Both Jim and Sherry say they have had the best career because of UCF. Sherry has been a physical educator at Indian Trails Middle School in Winter Springs for 34 years, and also spent ten years as an adjunct instructor at UCF.

“I taught health and wellness classes at night,” Sherry recalls. She had many of UCF’s student athletes in her class, including Blake Bortles.

“It was a dream to be part of UCF’s adjunct faculty,” Sherry says. “I feel like the experience improved my teaching overall.”

While at Indian Trails, Sherry says that she has supervised at least 22 UCF Senior Physical Education interns who also had passion for educating the next generation of students.

Sherry’s middle schoolers, who can sometimes be difficult to impress, develop a newfound respect for their coach whenever she starts the basketball component of her curriculum.

“I get their attention by spinning the basketball on my finger, and then I start shooting,” Sherry says.  “I tell them that I know I’m old, but I can still shoot.”

Jim recently retired from Seminole county schools after serving there since 1990. He was also the head basketball coach at Winter Springs High and convinced Sherry to be his assistant coach.

The Hogans both say how unbelievable it has been to see UCF become such a sports powerhouse since they left.

They both have fond memories, including some that Jim says have taken on a mythological tale.

Jim was in his last UCF football game against Samford (Alabama) University. According to a 1987 Orlando Sentinel article, Jim had an interesting departure during the game. In the article, Jim is quoted as saying he just wanted to enjoy his senior year. UCF was leading the game 66-0.

Jim had spent the week telling the coaches and players that he was going to punt the ball into the stands as his final goodbye and last punt as a Knight. This idea had been suggested to him jokingly at the behest of Torchy Clark (1929-2009), legendary UCF basketball coach from 1969-1983.

The plan did not go as planned.

He received the snap and bowed to the crowd, taking too much time and Samford blocked the punt and ran it back for a touchdown, spoiling the Knight’s first shutout in three years.

Jim admits he was embarrassed. “Once I saw what happened after my punt, I just left the field and went home in my car,” Jim says.

It can be difficult, sometimes, to look back on one’s youthful indiscretions and wonder if the right choice was made in the heat of the moment.

And even though that particular choice was perhaps, not the best one in the moment, Jim says he has nothing but love and respect for the university that gave him his best day, that Valentine’s Day in the gym.

The Hogans say they feel blessed each day to be part of Knight Nation.

Even in their early days of UCF, when they weren’t able to get game tickets, the Hogans and their sons would walk around the campus, seeing its growth, and enjoy the atmosphere.

“We just love everything about UCF, and it just keeps getting better and better,” Sherry says. “The games, the marching band, the cheerleaders – and just the beautiful campus.”

Jim says that if he had to encapsulate his feelings about what UCF has meant to him, he would tell you that he has only ever made one social media post in his life.

“When my second son graduated from UCF, I had four shirts designed with our grad years on them. I posted how proud I was of the four of us being UCF Knights,” Jim says. “I don’t really like to share things like that, but I just wanted our alumni to know how much UCF means to our family.”

This Valentine’s Day, Jim and Sherry will once again play HORSE and have a special dinner in celebration of 37 years together.

“It’s not a friendly game,” Sherry laughs.

“She just shoots the ball so darn good,” Jim says. “I will do my best, but she will probably beat me once again.”

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