Bishop Canevin coach Bob Jacoby honored by hall selection
Bob Jacoby never expected to be a football coach at Bishop Canevin for 40 years. Or a softball coach for 30.
But when he looks back, he has no complaints.
“I have great pride for my time as a coach and teacher at Bishop Canevin,” Jacoby said. “If I really sit down and think about all the people who went through the programs, they are really responsible for opening the door to the success we had.”
The longtime Crusaders coach was named a member of the 2014 WPIAL Hall of Fame class earlier this month. Jacoby and the other inductees will be honored at a ceremony June 6 at the Greentree Doubletree Hotel.
“It was a pleasant surprise,” Jacoby said. “I know some people wait years to get in. I am honored to be inducted so quickly.”
Jacoby — who was an American history teacher for 44 years at Bishop Canevin and athletic director for 30 — first joined the football staff as an assistant in 1968. Five years later he became the head coach.
His tenure was filled with milestones. He helped usher the program into the WPIAL in 1975. Jacoby led the Crusaders to 10 conference titles. Bishop Canevin was the WPIAL Class AA runner-up in 1983 and won the title in 1990.
Bishop Canevin advanced to the PIAA title game that season and lost to Hanover, 20-19 — in the first overtime in state championship game history — on a failed 2-point conversion.
Jacoby stepped down as football coach after the 2012 season. He finished his career as a football coach with a 238-170-7 record and is 11th on the WPIAL all-time list for coaching wins.
“There is a lot of pride in being a coach in Western Pennsylvania because of the tradition and how important football is,” Jacoby said. “I enjoyed building a tradition at Canevin. The other coaches and all the people involved helped do that.”
Being a softball coach — let alone spending 30 years in the dugout — was never a plan for Jacoby. While serving as Canevin's athletic director in 1982, the previous coach informed him two weeks before the season he was unable to continue his duties.
“I had a couple of girls in class, and they knew me pretty well,” Jacoby said. “They kept saying, ‘Why don't you do it?' Instead of scrambling to find a new coach, I thought I would do it for that year.”
That year turned into 30. His time as the Crusaders' softball coach may have been even more successful than his football tenure. Jacoby captured two WPIAL titles and coached the team to an undefeated season in 1999 that ended with a 1-0 win over Kutztown for the PIAA Class AA title — Canevin's first and only state title until the girls basketball team won the PIAA tournament in 2013.
“The whole (1999) season was full of tight games,” Jacoby recalled. “We really relied on the ability of our pitcher Robyn DeFife. We had four seniors who provided leadership and some great freshmen playing good softball.”
He retired as softball coach after the 2011 season.
Jacoby saw a lot of changes during his time as a coach. One of the most alarming was the way athletes were groomed to specialize in a particular sport.
“I really regret seeing that,” Jacoby said. “If the athlete has talents for other sports, they should be able to explore and enjoy the high school experience.”
Jacoby said he has enjoyed his retirement by traveling and spending time with his family. But once in a while, his coaching passion is rekindled.
“It is a really strange feeling sometimes,” Jacoby said. “Probably the one time it affected me was a Friday night in the fall when I was at a soccer practice for 7- and 8-year-old girls for my grandchildren. I just looked around and thought it was rewarding to see my grandkids.
“But it was strange that what was happening on the field wasn't football.”
Nathan Smith is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-388-5813.