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Washington's Garrett gung-ho for coaching

Loves it enough to start career in sport he never played
Aug 17, 2018
JACOB GARRETT

By Doug Brenneman, JOURNAL Sports

 

It has been said that a coach will impact more people in a year than most people will in a lifetime.

If a person can’t coach the sport he loves, any sport will do because it is a chance to positively influence youth.

Jacob Garrett is an assistant footbal coach at Washington High School, but it is just his second year coaching the sport he prefers.

His first coaching job was girls tennis at Eldora. He was so eager to get into coaching that he took the job, despite having no experience between the lines on the court with a net.

“It was the only coaching job that was open,” Garrett said.

And how much tennis had he played up to that point in his life? “None. I went out to Walmart and bought myself a racket,” Garrett said. “They asked me to do it because I was a warm body that had his coaching authorization.”

He wasn’t particular but he did have one question and that question was, “Does it pay?” Garrett laughed.

Most people love game day, but Garrett came to love practice as he learned his way about teaching and coaching.

He has been teaching eight years since graduating from Wartburg with a degree in elementary education.

“I’ve coached something each one of those years,” Garrett said.

The tennis gig lasted five years.

“I improved enough that I could finally beat a couple of the girls by that fifth year,” Garrett said.

Doing that with a Walmart racket says something about his talent, perserverance and ablity. Those are traits the 2007 Washington graduate recognizes in student-athletes.

“I wanted to get into coaching mostly because of the athletes,” Garrett said. “I think it’s a special kind of person that can be a student-athlete.”

Garret helped coach the eighth grade his first year at Washington. This year he is the ninth-grade defensive coordinator.

Defense is his specialty. It is where he played when he was a Demon. He was a defensive end.

“They put me in on offense one time,” Garrett said of his high school days. “I gave up three sacks. They never put me in on offense since.”

It’s not that he was bad at offense, it is just that defense is where he excelled.

“That is a nice way to put it,” Garrett laughed.

The Demons made a huge difference in the win-loss column while he played.

“I remember my sophomore year we went 2-7, but a lot of our games were really close,” Garrett said. “My junior year, we made the playoffs and that was a huge deal for us.”

It was an even bigger deal his senior year.

“My last year, we went 9-2,” Garrett said.

The Demons won their initial playoff game in a very memorable way.

“That is one of my favorite memories from playing,” Garrett said. “For that first round, we went to Williamsburg and we’re losing 23-0 at halftime. It was playoffs, so the TV news was there. They left at halftime, though.”

It turned out that they left too soon.

“We onside kick to start the second half and just kept going,” Garrett said. “We ended up winning 24-23.”

The Demons got home and turned on the TV, but didn’t get to see their exploits.

“When we watch the highlights on the news, it was all Williamsburg footage, but then at the end they finally said Washington wins,” Garrett said.

He graduated from Washington in 2007 and went to Wartburg.

“I played my first year there, but it wasn’t for me,” he said.

He teaches sixth-grade science and attempts to bring some of the classroom onto the field.

“I try to work some science in when I’m talking to the kids,” Garrett said.

Things turn out the best for those who make the most of the way things turn out.

“I was so glad to get into football coaching because that is really where my passion lies,” Garrett said. “Football is my favorite sport.”

There are a lot of reasons why it is his favorite.

“It is so different than most sports,” Garrett said. “Football is a very unique sport, very different from tennis. It is totally about the team versus being about an individual.”

Football also has a place for every kind of athlete. Small, short, skinny or medium, stocky, average or large, big, tall -- one’s build is irrelevant. Iit doesn’t matter how one is shaped, there is a place on the football team for everyone.

“Football takes kids of all sizes and has a place for each of them,” Garrett said. “Everybody has a role to play.”

Garrett has been impressed by his fellow coaches.

“I think we are really intense and I think a lot of that comes from Coach (James) Harris,” Garrett said. “I think that is going to rub off on the players and they will be passionate to play.”

Garrett was also impressed with how everyone on staff has handled new responsibilities after former head coach Garrison Carter left and Harris became the head coach.

“I thought it was a very smooth transition since he was already on staff, especially since he was a huge part of the team’s success in the past,” Garrett said. “I think the fact that he is from here and has so much pride in it means he wants to do well as much or more than any of us on staff. We have definitely gotten after it. We are really looking forward to having a good year.”

Garrett’s favorite part of football as far as coaching goes is being around the players.

“There’s not very many opportunities these days for kids to strap on the equipment, go out with your buddies, and hit people all in good fun,” Garrett said. “I think that it teaches a lot about life as far as teamwork, cooperation, and overcoming adversity and things like that.

“In my opinion, it does that more than any other sport. That may not be a popular opinion, but that’s what I’ve seen.”

Of course, he has seen what football players go through for themselves, for their teammates, for their community.

“You are out there sacrificing your body,” Garrett said. “If you’re not out there playing, you are preparing to play. You are in the weight room. You’re studying film. You are spending time with your friends working towards a common goal. While you are playing, it is not only for yourself, you are playing for the 10 other guys around you. It is truly one of a kind.”

Garrett has had a couple of memorable moments in his coaching career.

“I definitely remember that first tennis victory,” he said. “Last year, the freshman football team went undefeated. That was pretty good, pretty special moment.”

It is the special moments that make coaching rewarding. A common mistake among those who coach is spending a disproportional anount of time on the X’s and O’s compared to time spent learning about people.

“There are a lot of pressures that these high school kids are facing,” Garrett said. “Making the choice to dedicate themselves to a team and to a sport, I think that is a very honorable characteristic. So it is an honor to coach these people that have made that kind of a sacrifice. I like learning about them, being around them, just helping them excel in any way I can. That is why I wanted to coach.”

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