James Sweeney has been involved in shooting sports for over 30 years. He is an active competitor and besides college coaching, directs the State of Ohio International Pistol Championships as well as leagues in air gun, action pistol and bullseye.
Sweeney served as interim coach for the Ohio State Pistol Team in 1986 and 1987, taking the team to the nationals both years. In 1999-2000, his first as head coach, the Buckeyes captured the National Collegiate Championships as well as winning national team titles in free pistol, standard pistol, women's air and sport pistol. Last season his women's team won the National Collegiate Championship for the third time in six years. Sweeney was named the NRA Distinguished Coach of the Year at the Champoinship.
Sweeney is a retired professor of sports pedagogy from The Ohio State University, working in the area of teacher preparation for most of his professional career while teaching college classes in rifle, pistol, archery, bicycling and backpacking. He was the OSU men's varsity assistant gymnastics coach from 1960 to 1962; the men's varsity gymnastics head coach at Washington State University from 1962 to 1966 and the men's varsity gymnastics head coach at Ohio State from 1966 to 1977 where he was honored as the NCAA Mid-East Coach of the Year in 1968.
Sweeney earned his B.S. from Ohio State in 1957 in physical education. After graduation he taught and coached in Erie, Mich. for the Mason Consolidated Schools. He returned to Ohio State in 1960 as an instructor and earned his master's degree in Curriculum Design that year. From 1962 to 1966 he was an assistant professor at Washington State University. During the summers he returned to Columbus and received his Ph.D. in sport pedagogy with a minor in educational psychology.
He returned to Ohio State in 1966 as an assistant professor and became an associate professor in 1979. Sweeney retired in 1994 but continues to teach with emeritus status.
One of Sweeney's greatest sources of pride is that of coaching three Big Ten Conference Medal of Honor winners, in two different sports at Ohio State: Bruce Trott in gymnastics, and Laura Murray and Jessica Marshall in pistol.
Sweeney Quick Facts
Full Name: James Michael Sweeney
Born: May 15, 1934
Hometown: Lake Milton, Ohio
High School: N. Jackson-Milton
Playing Career: High school football and track; Ohio State freshman football in 1952; Ohio State varsity gymnastics from 1953-56, captain in 1956 and qualified for Nationals, finishing ninth in rings.
Coaching Career: Junior high football, basketball and track at Mason Schools, Erie, Michigan; Ohio State assistant gymnastics coach 1961-62; Washington State head gymnastics coach 1962-66; Ohio State head gymnastics coach 1966-78; Ohio State pistol coach 1985-86, 1999 to present.
Assisted Under: Joseph Hewlett at Ohio State (gymnastics), 1961-62.
Highlights: 1968 NCAA Mid-East Gymnastics Coach of the Year; has coached several all-Americans in gymnastics and an Ohio State Big Ten Medal of Honor winner; Won the 2000 Collegiate Pistol Championships and the 2000 and 2004 Women's Champoinships; 2001 runner-up at the 2001 Collegiate Pistol Championships; has had four individuals win 10 Collegiate Pistol Championships; named the NRA Distinguished Coach of the Year in 2004
The Man: Avid sports fan, especially in individual and Olympic style sports. Has competed in such diverse sports as shooting, archery, canoe racing, hydroplane racing, gymnastics and acrosport. His personal philosophy of coaching is that sports are for athletes, rather than athletes being for sports. "I try never to pressure my athletes to be good, rather I try to create an environment in which they take it upon themselves to excell." One thing that most people don't know is that Sweeney was a foster parent for 16 years, working with various age children until they were adopted or could return to their homes.
Buckeye Spotlight - Liz Buerling, Pistol