BHSU education grad prepares for his dream job

James Knutson, secondary education major from Red Shirt, graduated from Black Hills State University in May and will begin his dream job as a social studies teacher and head basketball coach with Oelrichs Public School this fall. His long-term goal is to become a college basketball head coach.

James Knutson graduated with a secondary education degree from Black Hills State University in May this month, he's beginning a full-time teaching position with Oelrichs Public School.

For James, the opportunity at Oelrichs is a slam dunk. In addition to teaching sixth grade social studies he'll also lead the boys' basketball team as head coach.

"I got my first head coaching job right out of college at BHSU," says James, a member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe originally from Red Shirt.

While on campus at BHSU, James served as student assistant coach with the BHSU Men's Basketball Team for three years. His interest in coaching began after he graduated from high school while working as a middle school boys and girls basketball coach and athletic director at Red Shirt Middle School.

James says he decided to attend BHSU because of the Center for American Indian Studies on campus. After meeting the staff and students associated with the Center, he knew BHSU was the place for him.

"The help I received from the Center ranged from life advice to tutoring. I didn't feel as far away from home because the Center helped ease my transition to college," says James.

As he succeeded in college, the Center asked James to become a mentor with the BHSU Bridge Program, an early move-in and orientation experience to help Native students adjust to university life.

While at BHSU, James also served as a Student Assistant Basketball Coach. For three years at BHSU James helped plan practices, manage games, traveled with the team, and managed equipment.

James says his long-term career goal is to become a college basketball head coach.

"One day I asked Jeff Trumbauer, the head basketball coach at BHSU, if I could help out, be a manager, or watch some practices. They saw I loved coaching and connected well with the team," says James. "It was a great learning experience to prepare me for my head coaching job at Oelrichs."

James completed his student teaching at Lead-Deadwood High School where he co-taught 11th and 12th grade history with a teacher who had taught him during high school on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

"I really like connecting with kids in the classroom, helping shape their lives and talk about their goals," says James.