After coaching men's and women's collegiate basketball for 32 years, Jim Seward might be ready to retire and rest on his laurels, you might think.
When the college coaching career door closed, another opened: becoming a basketball tutor.
Now he has no interest in returning to coaching college teams, Seward said. “I get to coach every day. And I don't have to recruit — a necessary evil that's kind of a waste of time.”
He realized that as a coach he had enjoyed practice much more than coaching games. “I like the teaching aspect, which is what I'm doing now.”
In the early 2000s he was an assistant coach for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's women's basketball team under head coach Paul Sanderford. When Sanderford resigned and UNL replaced him in 2002 with Connie Yori, Seward found himself without a job.
But basketball was never out of his thoughts. He did some scouting for different organizations, but he also began taking individual students for private lessons. As his reputation grew, so did the number of students.
For a while he leased space at the Jewish Community Center, but he kept adding students. Eventually it became clear he needed his own space.
He found it at 9855 S. 140th St. Seward calls the area sports central because there is a baseball academy, two volleyball facilities, a soccer facility and training areas in the neighborhood.
The School of Hoops was born.
He brought about 90 students with him to his new digs, which opened last October. Now there are about 200 students.
He offers shooting school, individual training and camps, and is already thinking about adding space. Parents are sometimes surprised to find out Seward's approach to basketball. “I'm not trying to get the best players. It's about all my players getting better.”
He helped produce some great players and teams during his collegiate career: 10 NCAA national scoring champs, nine NCAA top 20 teams, eight NCAA tournament appearances and four NCAA players of the year. And some of his recent students have won college basketball scholarships.
And those achievements and students make him proud. But Seward now concentrates on developing well-rounded young people who just happen to be able to play some basketball.
Zane Stull, a Millard North graduate who has been Seward's student for about nine years, is at the University of Wyoming on a basketball scholarship. He credits Seward with giving him a good outlook on life, through basketball.
“How I handle situations. How I'm supposed to react, to good things or bad things,” the 18-year-old said, adding that Seward doesn't lecture but teaches by doing. “His actions speak louder than words.”
Stull plans to stay in contact with Seward even while away at college.
Seward said he doesn't have hobbies. He can be found at the School of Hoops at almost any time of day, he said.
“Basketball is an important part of my life. I get to stay attached to the game. It's a chance for me to do something I want to do,” he said. “And I can wear tennis shoes to work.”