With school starting again and the Geist Half Marathon and 5K just a month away, we sat down with Jim Ziino, a teacher and coach for HSE Schools and a Geist Half Marathon Ambassador.

Jim Ziino has taught English as a New Language (ENL) and worked with international students for the past 12 years across the HSE district. He currently teaches at Fishers High School and coaches both cross country and track at Fall Creek Junior High School.

James Ziino coaching

Ziino always felt like teaching was something he should do. He was inspired by the thought of “getting students to think independently and watching students process their own ideas.”

One of the most rewarding experiences of Ziino’s career is “seeing things ‘click’ when that lightbulb goes on – how they go from the first to the final stage of understanding, comprehension, and being able to analyze and think critically,” he said.

His passions for coaching and teaching often overlap. “Coaching and teaching [both] involve a growth mindset. The idea of taking a challenge and making it into a success. Even though there may be setbacks, you can move forward. Setbacks are where you learn.”

James Ziino giving athlete a high five

On the coaching side, Ziino was always involved with sports, so coaching was a natural next step for him. He motivates his athletes by encouraging them to model the team mantra of  “as the team gets better, I get better.” His athletes have taken this mantra and run with it, both figuratively and literally! The girls’ team have been district champions and the boys’ team have been district, county, and state champions over the past several years. Proof of hard work and willingness to get better is evident every step of the way on both teams.

“Watching their personal growth and confidence grow is more important to me than the hardware,” he said.

James Ziino coaching

Ziino is also a Geist Half Marathon Ambassador this year. Don’t miss your chance to be a part of this year’s extra special Geist Half Marathon and 5k on Saturday, September 16! The race will feature the 13.1-mile race in addition to a 5-kilometer race, with optional VIP registration and volunteer opportunities.

For anyone interested in the race, Ziino’s best piece of advice is “don’t compare yourself to anyone else. It is your race and your run, so just make it your own. The second part is the physicality. Making sure you have proper training, the right hydration and nutrition, sleep, etc. On the mental side, find a mantra. When things start not going the way you hope, refer back to it. Your mantra could be a lyric of a song, a few deep breaths, a saying. Endurance distances are more mental than physical. You just have to be able to remain positive through it all.”

Register today at geisthalf.com and be sure to follow Geist Half Marathon on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.