SSN Coach Profile: Jim Self, athletic director

Sierra Borkowski

Jim Self began working as a Hamilton Southeastern athletic director in 1999.

Self ran cross country and track in high school. He continued through college where he attended the University of Indianapolis.

Before becoming an athletic director, Self coached football for 15 years and girls track for eight. He spent three years at Bloomington South High School where he was the head girls track coach. He also won a state championship in 1993 as an assistant football coach.

Self is also a member of the Indiana High School Athletic Administration as the gifts and hospitality chair. He has held this position since 2000.

Self says he knew he wanted to teach and coach, but never considered being an athletic director. When the opportunity presented itself, he took it… loved it. “I have the dream job for me, because I’ve combined my two passions: kids and athletics.”


The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, as Self’s father was a classroom teacher and coach for 39 years. “growing up, I always wanted to be like my dad.” Self has passed the torch, as two of his own children [Hannah and Eli] have gone to college to be educators, while the other [Lydia] will be a collegiate athlete.

HSEHS has been special to Self, he says, because it’s not only a good place to work, but it’s a great place to raise a family. Ultimately, it has become home to Self. He believes in finding a good place where he fits in an establishing roots. Self loves that HSE families set the bar high for him to keep him always at his best.

As the father of a multiple sport athlete, Self encourages players not to specialize. He tells kids not to listen to people who say you can’t do it, but instead to go and prove to yourself that you can. He points out that ‘playing’ is the key word when it comes to high school sports because it’s not a job and should be fun.

One of the most important things Self does, in his opinion, is hire coaches. He doesn’t want his coaches to determine success by wins and losses because this is ‘missing the mark’ in Self’s eyes. He instead wants them to prioritize building relationships and creating positive experiences. “you’ve got to show people you care about them and you love them before you can lead them. Trophies collect dust but relationships last forever.”

Being a high school athletic director, Self believes in education-based athletics. He values the life lessons gained from competition. He also stresses the importance of how his athletes are off the floor. “They don’t have a choice of whether they’re going to be role models. We’ve had some unbelievable athletes at HSE in my time when you think about Gary Harris, Zack Irvin, and Sydney Parrish. Those kids are phenomenal athletes, but just as much, phenomenal people. Every young kid at HSE looks up to them. I want our athletes to understand that we don’t just need them to be great players, we need them to be role models for others.”

Self describes being a true Royal as being a part of the HSE community and whatever piece of it you found that you fit into. He explains that it can be anything at HSE, the important part is finding your niche and embracing that as part of your high school experience. Self mentions a quote that is important to him from Maya Angelou: “Pursue the things you love doing, and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off you.”

Above all of his athletic achievements in his career, Self says what he’s loved the most in his career is walking with his kids on senior night. “I think my favorite thing [about being an athletic director] is that I got to be a dad. Not just being an athletic director for everybody else’s kid but for my own.”

He also describes his experience as the athletic director when HSE girls basketball won a state championship in 2019- with his youngest Lydia on the team. “Having your daughter play in the state championship game… and win… and getting to be on the floor as an athletic director… and a dad… that’s pretty cool.”

When Self isn’t working, he enjoys hunting and fishing. He also loves living in the country. Self says he cherishes time hanging out with his family. He specifically mentions spending time on walks with his wife, Leah Ann. “I have a wife who completely understands and values high school athletics because she was a three-sport athlete in high school and in college, so she gets it.”