By JON COOK
In the spring/summer of 1985, I was preparing to enter the 8th grade. I was far too young to realize at the time that my physical limitations from birth would prevent me from having a high school basketball career. I did have then, as I have now, an irrational love of the game and so I was curious when my dad showed me a brochure for the “Eastern Allen County Basketball Camp”.
The camp was being run at Allen East High School which was just up the road from my rural Hardin County home. I attended that camp with my brother that summer and for the next four years. I formed relationships with the coaches and kids from Allen East that survive to this day. Some in ways that I could not possibly have imagined.
The co-director of that camp more than three decades ago was a young man who at the time was just beginning his career as the JV coach at Allen East. Rick Sherrick would spend the remainder of his career in education wearing the blue and white. Many of those years as Athletic Director as well. He spent five seasons as the JV coach followed by four seasons as the school’s head coach before taking some time away from coaching. He returned to the bench for four years as an assistant before becoming the school’s head coach once again in 2009. He would spend another four years during his second stint leading the Mustang program. During his last two seasons on the bench, he had the pleasure of coaching his son Jacob Sherrick as a freshman and sophomore.
Today, Rick Sherrick is in his second season as the varsity assistant basketball coach at Ada High School. He sits on the bench every game night beside his son, who is the Bulldogs Junior Varsity coach.
In between the elder Sherrick’s departure from the Allen East bench and their reunion coaching the Bulldogs, it was my distinct honor to have coached Jacob during his junior year at Allen East. With all of that as the backdrop, I was genuinely excited to take the opportunity this past week
and sit down with both men and talk about their passion for, and their unique collective journey through this great profession of coaching.
Rick’s seemingly lifelong odyssey as a coach began somewhat accidentally as he recalls: “I think for me it began as a freshman in college. I got to make a lot of calls in the huddle and things like that and I thought, ‘You know this could be alright.’ So when I came back to college as a sophomore and had decided I wasn’t going to play, I got to do some scouting for my high school coach. I just fell in love with it. My senior year… I got to be the JV coach at Bluffton (College) with Marty Riggs and that just turned me on to it.”
Perhaps it should not be surprising that, as the son of a coach, Jacob knew at a much earlier age that he would want to someday be on the bench, calling the shots. He put it this way: “Being around it from the time I was five years old, being a manager, being on the sideline, I never wanted to be the guy that sat in the stands. I was always on the bench with a clipboard in my hands. I kept stats and things from the time I was 10… I just knew that was what I wanted to do.”
Rick recalls with a considerable grin his son’s earliest attempts at impacting a game from the sideline.
“I remember when Greg Neeley was the JV coach and he took a timeout… Jacob had something drawn up for him. He was 10 or 11.”
From that early age and humble beginning, Jacob was not only drawn to the thrill that coaching can be he was also keenly aware of the challenges that coaching presents. In spite of that, neither Sherrick ever believed that the possible negatives involved in coaching were a reason to keep Jacob from pursuing the career.
Rick says, “We had some tough times but I just love being around the kids. I don’t care about all the other outside stuff…who is yelling or screaming at me, or what they think. I always have tried to coach the 19th kid in the program the way I coached the number one kid. Absolutely I
was concerned (about Jacob facing some of the negatives in coaching) but I think he has been through it for long enough that he handles it pretty well.”
Jacob hesitates briefly when asked if he had any hesitation after observing some of the challenges that his father faced as a coach.
“Maybe a little reservation but not much. That kind of stuff doesn’t bother me whatsoever. You can say whatever you want or do whatever you want, but I’m out here (doing this job) for a reason and I’m confident that the decisions I make in the moment will be the right decisions. I never had any real reservations. Maybe more cane from my mom.”
Being in his early twenties and only a few years removed from his experience as a high school player Jacob acknowledges that his high school experience strongly impacted his vision for coaching.
“I had the unique experience of, fours years, playing for three different coaches. There we had kind of a “team” without really developing a program. I think there is a big difference in that. Here with Dre (Ada head coach Dre White), we are trying to build a program from the top down.
And I think that is important.”
Dad’s career is not the only influence that has played an integral part in shaping the younger Sherrick as an aspiring coach. Jacob’s grandfather is Bill Goodwin, the legendary former head football coach at Allen East, and his uncle is Marion Local head football coach Tim Goodwin. As such, Jacob has spent the past three football seasons as an assistant coach with the Flyer Football program. He has no hesitation when asked how the vastly different experience of coaching in three state football title games can help in the task of building a struggling basketball program.
“I think it starts with organization. It’s a factory down there (at Marion Local). It’s a machine. You do this, this and this… you better be dang good at it or you’re not gonna see the field. It’s kind of the same as what we want to do here. You better be able to do X, Y, and Z or you’re not going to be able to play for Ada Basketball. Tim has obviously been very successful, but if you take away the wins and losses, he’s still a great head coach… He’s a great leader and he turns kids into positive role models. All of that has kind of rubbed off on me.”
Both Sherrick’s are clearly enjoying the experience of coaching together. Asked whether it was more fun coaching his son or coaching with his son, Rick struggled to give a definitive response. “Gosh! That’s really a tough question because I did enjoy coaching him. He’s probably one of
the smartest players I ever coached. He wasn’t the most gifted kid athletically but you couldn’t trap him or force a mistake. He moved the ball well and made the right decisions. He is a good leader.”
And that leadership is what seems to be translating into his role as a coach regardless of the sport, according to Rick.
“I’ve asked his uncle Tim about him, and Tim says he is going to be successful. Not only is he smart and knows the game, but people like to be around him.’
Jacob is also quick to point out that his football experience has created another opportunity for growth and development as a coach.
“Along with all of this, two or three times a week I ride to practice with my grandpa. To be able to bounce ideas off if him, X’s and O’s also, but just in general coaching philosophies. That kind of thing has definitely been a positive.”
From playing for his father to coaching with his uncle and grandfather to now coaching alongside his dad.
From playing for three coaches as a high school player to coaching in three consecutive state football championship games to now helping build a high school basketball program from the ground up.
Jacob Sherrick is simply doing what he loves, what he has always wanted to do. He’s doing what he was born, and thanks to his grandfather, his uncle, and his dad, what he was raised to do. Rick Sherrick’s coaching career started as a college student at Bluffton College. Jacob Sherrick’s
coaching career has started as a college student at Bluffton University.
Their journeys have been similar in some ways. They have certainly had their differences.
Where they are now seems like a pretty good place for both of them.
Maybe this was just always meant to be.
But these are… Just My Thoughts.
In the fall of 2014 when I joined Childers Media Group and began writing for 419sports.com, I had very little idea exactly what I was getting myself into and had exactly zero background as a writer. In roughly three and a half years of time, I have written just shy of 100 columns for the
Sunday posting. It should be a much higher number but I’ve discovered that writing a column each week is much more difficult than most can imagine and I missed my share of weeks when topics were difficult to come by.
I suppose some would argue that after all of that I still don’t have any clue what I’m doing as a writer. If you are not one of those people, I appreciate you and thank you for reading my columns when they are posted.
If you are one of those people I have some news for you. After today you will no longer have to worry about reading my column on Sundays.
Don’t get too excited. Just My Thoughts is moving to Mondays beginning tomorrow (February 12).
We are re-shuffling things at 419sports.com, and my column will now be appearing on Monday. I have some pretty big shoes to fill, but I won’t likely change a lot. I will still prefer to write about the sport that I love over most other topics, and when I don’t, I hope that I will be able to make you think about sports in a different way.
If what I write is something you agree with or if it is something you simply believe to be wrong, that’s all ok with me and your feedback is and always has been welcome. We and I remain committed to local sports, teams, and issues first but other topics will sometimes deserve and
get your attention in this space on Monday.
Thanks again to any and all of you who have checked into read Just My Thoughts on Sunday. I truly hope you’ll continue to do so on Monday… see you tomorrow everyone!