LOST CREEK - Brad Jett says he's been called many things by the players he coaches -- a father, a brother, an uncle.
Until this season, though, he'd never been called "the grandfather I never had." When that happened at the 2017 season, he thought seriously about retirement.
"My wife said, 'you're pushing 60,'" said Jett. "The kids are still 15 or 16."
So after 34 years as a coach at South Harrison, Jett decided it was time to retire.
“I feel good about this right now. I have a feeling I’m going to feel good about it in August," said Jett. "I’ll miss it. I know I’m going to. But it’s just the right time.”
Jett informed his players of this decision Monday.
He spent nearly two decades of that time as the Hawks' head coach, racking up 130 career victories and leading a team that brought a community together, year after year.
"Ron Fisher, who was a broadcaster for many years that we lost seven or eight years ago, always said, ‘they love a good football game, and a good funeral, so if you want to pack the place, you have one or the other,'" said Jett. "We packed the place.”
But no win, no matter how historic, meant more to Jett than making a difference in the lives of his players.
“We’ve had a great run," said Jett. "I’ve been very blessed in my life to be able to stay at one school for 34 years, teach there for 32, and be part of the community. I just feel it’s time in my heart.”
In that way, some might say he followed in the footsteps of Gary Barnette, the former South Harrison head coach, for whom the Hawks’ stadium is named.
“He always did what was best for the kid. I tried to follow along with that," said Jett. "He built a great foundation at South Harrison, and I’m leaving without putting a roof on it. Maybe the next guy can do that.”
Jett carried Barnette’s legacy with him throughout his coaching career, reminding athletes to honor him in the way they play.
Now, Jett has forged his own coaching legacy, and he hopes he’s remembered as honest, caring and loving.
“You know, I think there will be enough of them [players] to speak up later on, that, to me, I was fair, I was honest with them and I loved them," said Jett. "That’s all that matters.”