By Miller Friedman
Nima Omidvar still keeps an award from his coaching days at Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School in his office.
“Some of my best memories are my two years at Jewish Day School,” Omidvar said. “I poured my heart and soul into this team that gave me their heart and soul back. It was just pure basketball.”
That was over 10 years ago.
Today, Omidvar has graduated the ranks of high school basketball coaching and currently serves as director of basketball operations for this university’s basketball team.
Omidvar, who is a Clinton, Maryland native, said he had always wanted to coach at this university, but was nonetheless shocked when he received a call in 2014 from head coach Mark Turgeon offering him the position.
“I get a call from a 301 number and I’m thinking, ‘Who could this be?’ I answer it and the guy says, ‘Hey Nima, this is Mark Turgeon.’ I just laughed and hung up. I thought it was one of my friends pranking me,” Omidvar said.
Omidvar said Turgeon called him back 20 minutes later and assured him that the call was not a joke.
As director of basketball operations, Omidvar handles attention-grabbing roles like recruiting and in-game strategizing, but he said that the behind-the-scenes obligations are just as rewarding.
“What I have learned is that every part of the job is equally important. The recruiting and the X’s and O’s may be the sexy parts of the job, but managing the office and making sure that the locker room is clean is equally important,” Omidvar said. “All those little things add up to the big picture of us being a championship program.”
This dedication to the basketball program is something that Omidvar has become famous for in the Maryland locker room.
Associate Athletic Director Zack Bolno said that Omidvar’s passion is evident to everyone who meets him.
“His enthusiasm for not only the men’s basketball team, but the University of Maryland, is apparent every day he comes to work,” Bolno said. “His effort and work ethic has gotten him to this point in his career.
Omidvar said he learned how to be a hard worker from his grandparents, who operated a hair salon when he was growing up.
Omidvar still looks up to his grandparents and parents, but in the world of coaching, he said he looks to Turgeon for inspiration when trying to improve his coaching.
“He’s really about as close as you can get to being a perfect person,” Omidvar said.
Turgeon has a lot of respect for Omidvar, as well. In a 2014 article from The Washington Post, Turgeon praised Omidvar’s passion and inventiveness.
“He loves Maryland and he loves Maryland basketball. He’s creative and he has ideas that he’s trying to figure out,” Turgeon told the Post.
One example of that creativity occurred years ago when he was still trying to become a head basketball coach for a college program. In an effort to establish credentials, he created a basketball events company called D.C. Metro Showcase.
“That moment where it took some guts to do something when I didn’t really have the knowledge of how to do it, that was the moment that kind of set me up for the rest of my career. Had I not had the gumption to take that leap of faith and just do it, I might not be here today,” Omidvar said.
Besides Maryland, Omidvar has held positions at North Carolina State, University of North Carolina at Charlotte and Bowie State University. Even with impressive qualifications, he still looks back at his days at JDS with equal fondness.
“It would be a dream come true, and hopefully they read this, to get [my old players] all together for a reunion,” Omidvar said. “I tell them all when I see them, I need one of you guys to step it up and organize something so I can see all of them…I’m going to take this article and send it to each of them.”