Former Texas Lutheran basketball coach Jim Shuler cared a lot about players

Former Texas Lutheran University basketball coach Jim Shuler took care of his players so much that near the end of his life he worried that he might have failed some of them.

“I talked to him about six months ago and he was not feeling well,” said Al Silva, one of Shuler’s former players. “He said, ‘Al, I have something bothering me. You did well, and a few of the other players did really well, but not all. I think I failed them. … I think just, I could have done better. ”

Silva, who played for Shuler in high school and college, told his former coach that he unfairly punished himself.

“He personified character, and you did as he did, imitating him,” Silva said. “Most of us did not have a male role model in our lives. It was a great thing to have him be one for us.”

Texas Lutheran coach Jim Shuler works on the sidelines during a 1999 Incarnate Word match.

Texas Lutheran coach Jim Shuler works on the sidelines during a 1999 Incarnate Word match.

Courtesy Photo / Texas Lutheran Athletics

Shuler, who trained for 31 years, including 23 at the college level, died suddenly at his home in Schertz on April 5th. He was 77.

Shuler compiled a record of 298-226 in 19 years (1972-77, 1986-2000) at TLU, and guided the Bulldogs to 15 winning seasons. He had nearly 200 more wins than any other men’s basketball coach at Seguin School, winning the Heart of Texas Conference Championships in 1996 and ’97 and three HOTC Coach of the Year awards along the way.

Shuler led the TLU to the postseason 11 times and coached seven NAIA All-Americans.

Shuler retired from coaching in 2000 with an overall record of 519-337, including his years at Jefferson and Judson high schools, Hardin-Simmons University and TLU.

A San Antonio native who graduated from Sam Houston High School, Shuler began training with Jefferson in 1968. He guided the Mustangs from 1972 to a record 34-4 and Class 4A finals, where they lost to Dallas Roosevelt 68-63 despite a career-high 44 points from Rick Bullock, who later starred at Texas Tech.

Shuler was known around the TLU campus for saying “the student comes first.” Only two of his players failed to complete their eligibility at TLU, known as Texas Lutheran College until 1996.

Texas Lutheran basketball coach Jim Shuler talks to his team during a timeout in a match in the late 1980s at the Memorial Gym in Seguin.

Texas Lutheran basketball coach Jim Shuler talks to his team during a timeout in a match in the late 1980s at the Memorial Gym in Seguin.

Courtesy Photo / Texas Lutheran Athletics

“He had a wonderful graduation,” said Linda Shuler, his wife of nearly 48 years.

Silva remembered how Shuler paid the $ 20 he needed to take an entrance exam while they were with Jefferson. It was typical of Shuler, who helped his players off the field in a variety of ways, Silva said.

“He would find a way to comfort you, not to lose heart, to face everything you had to face and endure,” said Silva, who graduated from TLC in 1978 after winning the Big State All- Conference honors as a striker.

Silva worked for Labatt Food Service for 40 years before retiring last year as general manager and chief operating officer.

“Sometimes a child from the West Side does well, but only with a lot of help and guidance,” Silva said. “Jim was my blessing.”

Shuler played basketball and tennis at Tennessee’s Carson-Newman College and was named an NAIA First-Team All-American in 1966 when he led the Eagles to a third-place finish in the NAIA Tournament.

Shuler was inducted into the Carson-Newman Athletics Hall of Fame in 2012.

As a coach, he required expertise from his players in their behavior on and off the field and in the classroom.

“I remember he in high school would not let us have boyfriends,” Silva said. “He told us on the first day of training while holding a basketball, ‘Your girlfriend is orange and her name is Spalding. I don’t want anyone playing in a big game of goo-goo looking up at the crowd.’

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