Longtime Sandy Creek girls basketball coach Russ Ninemire is stepping down, but he might not necessarily be stepping away.
The 63-year-old Ninemire, who has coached the Cougars for 40 years, recently announced his retirement from the school. He and his wife are moving to Omaha, where he said he hopes to coach again.
“I still think I have something left in the tank,” he said. “We’ll see if the opportunity presents itself.”
Ninemire can present a résumé few coaches can duplicate. He guided the Class C-2 Cougars to 10 state championships, including a run of six straight from 1996 to 2001.
His teams also won 95 consecutive games during that span, a state record that was later broken by West Point Guardian Angels Central Catholic (111).
He has 583 career wins, fourth on the all-time Nebraska girls basketball coaching list. He trails only retired coaches Ken Cook (623), Jim Miller (619) and John Miller (585).
Ninemire capped his days at Sandy Creek by being named a head coach in the McDonald’s High School All-American girls basketball game in March. Though his team lost the game played at Chicago’s United Center in overtime, Ninemire said it was a tremendous experience.
“It was a great honor,” he said. “It was a top-notch event and something I’ll never forget.”
Ninemire, who grew up in Ralston, said his decision to step away from Sandy Creek was not impulsive.
“It was something I’d been thinking about the past few years,” he said. “The right opportunity came along at the right time.”
That opportunity was as a physical education teacher at two Omaha Catholic grade schools. The move from Fairfield also will allow Ninemire and his wife to be closer to their son and daughter, who live in Omaha.
“The move made sense for us in a lot of ways,” he said. “I enjoyed my time at Sandy Creek, but now I’m looking forward to a new challenge.”
Ninemire said he is hoping to coach again at the high school level, either as a head coach or as an assistant. He applied for a head coaching position at Omaha Burke but wasn’t selected.
“They promoted an assistant, and that’s OK,” he said. “I saw the opening was there and I did interview, but now I’m moving on.”
Ninemire, who said he was “just a whippersnapper” when he was hired at Sandy Creek in 1977, said he also would welcome a coaching job that wasn’t girls basketball.
“About the only sports I’d cross off would be swimming, wrestling and volleyball,” he said. “I’m an all-around coach and have a lot of experience to share.”
Though just 40 wins from tying the state record, Ninemire said his coaching career at Sandy Creek was never about the number of victories.
“That’s not what I’m about,” he said. “I remember the state championships, of course, but I mostly remember the kids.”