An engineering degree is usually not a prerequisite for a basketball coach, but perhaps it should be. Take UR women’s basketball head coach Jim Scheible. Scheible graduated from Clarkson University with a degree in civil engineering, and since coming to UR in 1999 to coach basketball, he has led the women’s team to two Final Four and five Sweet 16 appearances. He has amassed an overall record of 169-80 at UR in his nine-year tenure and was named the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association Region 2 Coach of the Year in 2004.

Scheible has also been active off the court in his time here. The coach oversees the Varsity Student Athlete Advisory Committee and serves on a number of committees for the University as well as Division III at large. Too many commitments? Not for this basketball coach.

“It just seems like a natural extension,” the coach said. “I’m doing what I love, so it just doesn’t seem like work.”

Scheible’s passion for the sport and, as a result, for his role as a coach was just one of the topics we discussed when I got a chance to sit down with the former businessman.

We also talked about the difference between coaching men and women. Scheible explained his preference for coaching women through a quote from University of North Carolina’s women’s soccer coach Anson Dorrance – famous for leading UNC to 19 national championships in 25 years – who said that “with women, it’s a constant process of building them up, while with men, it’s a constant process of lancing their egos.”

“I just feel my demeanor is more suited toward coaching women,” Scheible said. “With women, it’s more of making them appreciate how good they are, which appeals to me more so than coaching men.”

Scheible got his first taste of coaching while he was going for his MBA at Clarkson in 1988. He started out as an assistant coach for the Clarkson women’s basketball team and, the following year, was named interim head coach for a team that finished 26-7 and went to the Final Four.

In 1990, he moved to San Diego, Calif. to pursue a career in business, but he soon realized he missed the frigid winds of upstate New York and coaching. He went to Elmira College in 1992, staying there for seven years as head coach of the women’s basketball team before jumping at the opportunity to take over as head coach for UR.

“I really like getting to coach in the [University Athletic Association],” Scheible said. “[Students] are looking for excellence in both academics and athletics. When you go out and search for recruits, you are looking for the best of both worlds.”

Scheible also discussed his coaching philosophy.

“Our main job is to create a culture where [the athletes] can compete at the highest level day in and day out at practice,” he explained. “They want a high level experience, and it’s our job to hold the bar up and let them chase that high level experience on a daily basis. It’s really about establishing habits that will lead to excellence.”

The UR women’s team has made some serious strides toward excellence since Scheible arrived in 1999.

It’s hard to believe that in his first year at UR, the coach went 6-19 and won just one game in conference play. Since that time, the ‘Jackets have posted eight consecutive winning seasons and have gone into postseason play each of those eight years. In fact, Scheible’s teams have gone to postseason tournaments 13 of the last 14 years he has been coaching.

But by the end of the interview, it wasn’t the amount of success Scheible has accumulated that impressed me. It wasn’t the winning resume that left me humbled in his presence. It was the fact that, after 17 years as a coach, the man still loves his job.

“I wake up always wanting to go to work, because I really enjoy what I do,” Scheible said.

Hopefully, this is an attitude that will impact his players past the realm of collegiate sports.

Hilfinger is a member of the class of 2010.



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