Jim Keating began his outstanding athletic career at St Mary's High School in Annapolis, where he was a four sport athlete earning 13 letters in football, basketball, wrestling, and lacrosse. He was selected first team All-State lacrosse in his senior year. At the University of Maryland he started and lettered four years on the varsity lacrosse team. He led Maryland to the national championship in 1955 and 1956, earning first team All-America in those two seasons. He played in the 1956 North/South game, where he scored two goals in the South's 20-10 victory.
Before entering the Air Force, be coached the 1957 Maryland freshman team to a 5-0 record. After entering the Air Force, he led an active military life, including an assignment at the U.S. Air Force Academy where he served as lacrosse coach and assistant director of athletics. His coaching record at the Academy was 81-13, and he led the 1971 Air Force team to the first NCAA playoffs. He was also a member of the NCAA Lacrosse Rules Committee. Jim served two tours of duty in Vietnam, where he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal with five oak leaf clusters.