Life is all about making decisions.
Coaches know that the ability for their team to be successful has a lot to do with its players being able to make the right choices on or off the court. Coaches preach to their players that as long as they can live with the decision they made, then it was the right one for them.
“I know without a doubt that this is the right thing to do for our family,” said Jacob Brindle, former head coach of the Cascade High boys’ basketball team after he submitted his letter of resignation at the Western Dubuque school board meeting April 6. “We’re pretty excited about the transition. It’s bittersweet when you’re leaving what I’ve been fortunate enough to be a part of at Cascade, but it’s for the right reasons. There are a lot of coaches who aren’t fortunate enough to leave on good terms. This one is purely and simply family.”
Brindle, a father of four children ranging from 22 months to 6, decided that now is the time to step away from coaching and turn all of his focus and attention to his family, whose members are entering very busy phases in their lives.
For Brindle, there wasn’t much that he didn’t accomplish during his 18 years with the Cougars. He sat next to legendary coach Al Marshall as his assistant coach for his first 14 years with the program, and then took over for Marshall as the Cougars’ head coach for the 2016-17 season. In just his second year Brindle led Cascade to an almost-perfect season, going 26-1 and capping the campaign with the school’s first boys state basketball title.
Under Brindle, just the second head coach in boys’ program history, the Cougars went 78-20 and continue to be regarded as one of the best basketball programs in northeast Iowa.
Off the court, Brindle was busy fathering his growing family with his wife, Rachel. When Brindle took over the head coaching job, they were a family of five with twins Whitman and Marce, now 6, and Roslyn, 1/2. In the fall before the team’s state championship run, Rachel found out she was pregnant with their youngest child, Quincy, now 22 months.
“We had always talked about having four children and we were a little late in getting started,” said Brindle, who married Rachel in 2011. “So we go from no children to four of them in four-and-a-half years. It was pretty crazy, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
While the Brindles were managing their new-found crazy-with-kids lifestyle, Quincy, at just 7 months old, had a health scare in the fall of 2018 that got Jacob and Rachel talking about stepping away from coaching.
“We didn’t rush into this decision. We took our time and had lots of good talks about it, but it is the right thing for my family,” said Brindle. “I’ve been blessed beyond all beliefs as far as my coaching goes. I’ve always wanted to coach and to be able to do it at a perfect place was great. I have always wanted a family and have been blessed beyond belief that way, too. It’s a win-win situation. I got to do what I always loved to do and there is plenty of time to come back to it. I can always coach. I’ll be able to get my fix on being in the gym, but I’ll also be where I need to be for my family when they need me. More importantly, I’ll be able to be with my family when I want to be.”
There is no doubt that coaching is in Brindle’s DNA and according to him, the only place he is interested in coaching is at Cascade, as he is 100% Cougar. One of the strongest coaching strains that pulses through Brindle is how strongly he cares about his players. It doesn’t matter to him if you are the star player on the squad or the 12th guy on the bench, he wants the best for them on and off the court.
There is no question that Brindle has been a part of special teams during his 18 years at Cascade, but a favorite memory speaks to the kind of person he is. He said one of his personal favorite memories was being able to surprise Connor Booth by getting him into game gear for senior night this season and having his name announced when he stepped onto the court and logged some playing time after fighting his way back from an ACL injury.
“It’s been a blink of an eye for me. It’s so hard to believe that it’s been 18 years already, but to be able to be a part of something this special at one school is amazing. I teach here, live here and we started our family here. If you would have told me before I went into coaching that I’d have the chance to be a part of 10 conference titles, nine district titles, six state tournament teams and one state championship, I would have said that there is no way you can write a script like that,” said Brindle. “But it happened and so did me becoming a dad. My favorite thing about being a dad is that come bedtime, they all want me to lay down with them and either sing a song or read a book. They don’t look at me as the coach and they don’t care if we won or lost a big game. They don’t care. They run to me because I’m dad.”