Jim Loughran is back in a place where he’s spent a good portion of his life: the Moffat County High School gym.
And, he’s rejoining a sport that’s been part of his life for more than 30 years.
“I’ve never really been away from it,” he said.
Loughran is the new coach for the freshmen boys basketball team, a familiar position for the former MCHS mainstay, though in a different capacity.
“It’s kind of on a low-key level,” he said. “Coaching freshmen is a little different than being responsible for a program. My job is basically to get the kids fundamentally ready to play (junior varsity) and varsity.”
Loughran coached boys and girls hoops for 22 years during his tenure at the school from 1979 to 2006, overseeing two of his own children, Sean and Amy, in the Bulldog basketball program. He also took the girls team to the state tournament in 1992 and 1993.
Teaching reading and social studies at the school through 2001, he was also the athletic director for his last five years at MCHS, working as the girls soccer coach for two seasons before bowing out of athletics.
Loughran said he’s enjoying his return to the school as a coach.
“Being back and working with kids again is something I wanted to do before I completely retire,” he said.
Since leaving MCHS, Loughran has worked with the Colorado High School Activities Association in observing and seeding high school basketball teams for tournament play.
He also works as a salesman for Daktronics, a company based out of Brookings, S.D., which distributes scoreboards to all levels of athletic venues.
“We’re in 29 of 32 pro baseball teams. If you go watch the Rockies, that big video board and everything around it is by Daktronics,” he said.
The scoreboard hanging in the MCHS gym is one provided by Daktronics as well. Loughran got it for the school before retiring as athletic director.
His current job mostly entails traveling around to schools in Colorado and Wyoming. He said it has been relatively easy to balance his work with his coaching responsibilities.
“I manage to get all my traveling out of the way, and I work during the day, so it’s not a problem,” he said.
During most practices, Loughran’s team is on the opposite end of the gym from head coach David Bradshaw and junior varsity coach John Haddan.
“They’re both good coaches,” Loughran said. “They kind of let me be on my own, and so I don’t get a chance to see what they do.”
Loughran said he has run his team through a little bit of everything.
“I think the main thing they lack are the fundamentals, and that’s their weakness,” he said.
Loughran said he is still adjusting to basketball players who are new to the sport at the high school level.
“I think one of my difficulties is that I expect too much, and I’ve got to be a little more patient,” he said. “They find that I’m a little bit old school, and I don’t tolerate people not paying attention.
“When you’re trying to teach something new, it can be pretty difficult for them to pick it up. A couple of them haven’t ever played any competitive basketball.”
He also is used to a different roster format. Though the team is officially named “freshmen,” it’s a C-team that allows sophomores to qualify, as well.
“We used to do it strictly freshmen, JV, varsity, but now it’s C-team, JV, varsity. It’s a little bit different concept,” he said. “What it does is it allows kids to get an extra year of development and give them a chance to get experience playing the game.”
The freshmen boys and girls teams will play Rifle on Thursday at MCHS, with the girls at 5 p.m. and the boys at 6:30 p.m.
“I think each game is going to be interesting,” he said. “My goal is to have them pretty fundamental by the end of the season, and where they go from there is up to them.”