Park Forest, IL–(ENEWSPF)– Longtime Rich Township 227 educator and coach, Fred Jacobeit, will be inducted into the Illinois Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame at a special ceremony at Illinois State University in April.
Always quick-witted, Jacobeit appreciates the honor and, like every successful coach, has a realistic approach and gives credit to everyone he has worked with. But being selected to any Hall of Fame may have a drawback or two.
“First of all, it means I’m old,” Jacobeit said. “Secondly, it means I have had the opportunity to work with some great individuals who have taken pride in their roles as student-athletes.
“I have also had the good fortune of working for and with some tremendously dedicated coaches who truly cared about developing successful young people.”
Jacobeit is also a local guy who grew up in the area and came back to coach in the the area. A graduate of Hillcrest High School, he has Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degree from Butler University in Indianapolis.
“One of the greatest blessings of my professional career is that I have had the chance to coach extensively at all three Rich Township schools,” Jacobeit said. “I have developed close ties with so many staff members and students and I truly cherish my time in the district.”
In 13 years as a head coach, which has included stops at Thornton Fractional South (2 years), Crete-Monee (1 year), Rich South (6 years) and four years at Rich East, Jacobeit’s teams have amassed an overall record of 200-152, a .568 winning percentage, and slightly more than 15 wins per season.
At Rich South, he had three consecutive Regional Championships and a Sectional Championship. In 1997, his Stars had a Sweet 16 appearance and a 25-5 record. In addition, he was twice voted Coach of the Year by his peers in the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association in 1997 and 1999. He was also an assistant coach on the 1986 Rich Central team that went 31-2 and was state runners-up.
He also served 18 years as an assistant boys and girls basketball coach at every high school level, including that 1986 Rich Central Olympians team.
“Fred (Jacobeit) is the only person to take a Rich South basketball team to a Super Sectional,” said Mark Hopman, long-time Rich South Assistant Principal for Athletics and Activities. “He’s been very successful coaching every place he has been. Just a solid and steady coaching career.
“As a coach and a teacher he’s just very exacting and intense in practices, coaching and in teaching,” Hopman added. “I’m sure if you ask his former players they will tell you what a driving force he was in shaping their lives teaching life lessons.”
Also an experienced teacher, Jacobeit is a long-time physical education, health and drivers education instructor. He has been innovative. Three years ago, he started a fishing segment in his physical education class at Rich East High School. His students fish the Rocket Lagoon every Monday, Wednesday and Friday during the first quarter of the school year.
“I just felt it would be a good, life-long activity and expose our kids to something new,” Jacobeit said. “They (students) seem to enjoy it immensely. Some of the kids have a lot of experience and they’ll help the other kids with baiting hooks and taking the fish off the hook.”
And, just in case you’re wondering, it’s a catch-and-release contest. After the kids hook the fish, they unhook ‘em and toss the fish back in the lagoon for another swim and possible catch..
At Rich East, where he has been a teacher for the last six years and the Rockets’ former basketball coach, Jacobeit has a solid following among his peers. And, pulling a practical joke or two is not out of the ordinary.
“Fred is the kind of guy who would do anything for his students, colleagues and friends,” said Alan Greenberg, a long-time physical education teacher and former football and wrestling coach at Rich East, who has known and worked with Jacobeit for more than a decade.
“He’d give you the shirt off his back. It would be a horrendous site, but he’d do it anyway,” Greenberg laughed.
Jacobeit also has a positive impact on new teachers to the district, who quickly pick up on his sense of humor and to watch out for “incoming pranks.”
“We’ve got this diet contest going right now to cut back on junk foods,” said second-year Rocket physical educator Christine Collins. “We don’t know who’s gonna win, but we gotta keep an eye on him,” she grinned.
“He’s a fun person to work with and you learn a lot from him. He’s like a second dad,” Collins added. “We’ve talked about coaching a team together someday. If it happens, that would really be great.”
Jacobeit also organizes an annual staff golf tournament. Staff gets together for a round of golf, a barbecue, and a gag gift at the end. You never know what it’s going to be.
“It’s just nice to get everyone together for golf and get together outside the office,” Jacobeit said. “Everyone likes the gag gifts.”
Rich East Principal Mark Kramer, who although he has only been in the district for less than two years, praised his accomplishments for the school and the district. “He has work for many years in the district. He’s had much success in the classroom and on the court and it is an honor and with great pride that we have him as a Rocket and announce his induction into the Hall of Fame.”
Hopefully, for his students and the people he works with, Jacobeit will continue to be an educator for many years to come. He likes putting forth his philosophy. It’s simple and it continues to work.
“My greatest thrill has been watching students accomplish things they never dreamed possible,” Jacobeit said.
“The collective effort of individuals with a common goal is a powerful force.”