That’s the combined number of seasons Robin Jacobs, Glenn Goulder and Martha Lawler coached high school softball in Tipton County.
The numbers are staggering: 35 state tournament appearances and more than 2,000 wins and 50 district titles.
It became clear that era was ending when word began to circulate this week that Brighton coach Robin Jacobs was retiring at the end of the school year after 27 seasons. Martha Lawler retired from coaching Covington’s softball team in 2013 after 29 seasons. Goulder did the same at Munford in 2021 after 35 years on the job.
“It was a unique situation with all three of us coaching in the county,” said Goulder, who gave Jacobs a call Monday morning when he heard the news. “There was mutual respect between all three of us. It made for a really good work environment.”
“I don’t know really know how to take it right this second, to be honest with you,” Jacobs said Monday morning about the prospect of retirement. “You don’t ever think that day’s going to come for you but, obviously, it comes for everybody.”
Jacobs was hired as Brighton’s softball coach when the new school opened its doors in 1996. In 27 seasons he compiled a record of 714-248-10 that included 14 district titles, nine region championships and 10 state tournament appearances.
While the wins are certainly important to Jacobs, coaching softball at Brighton was about much more than on-the-field results. Both of Jacobs’ daughters – Caroline and Emily – played for him and Emily has been an assistant coach for the last several years. His wife Teena and his parents have been to basically every game over the last 27 seasons.
“With softball it was a family thing for him,” said Brighton principal Brian Crowson, who has been at Brighton with Jacobs for 22 years. “If you went to Brighton softball games you knew all of them, knew where they sat. His family was always there.”
Jacobs, 62, has been getting a lot of calls from friends and coaches as the news got out that he was retiring.
“A friend called me and said, ‘Coach, you’re going to remember all the good stuff. You get to choose the ones you want to remember.'”
When asked to name some of his memories from 27 years of softball, Jacobs has no problem. He rattles off at least a dozen pivotal games, many of which involved Munford and Covington. Jacobs talked a lot about family as well.
“My family has been right there by me the entire way. It’s tough on them. The toll it takes on your family is unbelievable.”
Jacobs was also a football coach at Brighton. In addition to serving as an assistant coach for many seasons, he was head coach for five seasons. He compiled a 30-24 record, won two region titles and took the Cardinals to the Class 5A state semifinals in 2017, the program’s best postseason finish.
Now Crowson and the Brighton administration are tasked with finding his replacement.
“They always say you never want to replace a legend, but somebody’s going to have to do that,” Crowson said. “We’re looking for somebody who’s going to keep the program going in the right direction. To replace somebody who has been to the state tournament as many times as he has and won so many district titles is tough. He’s known all over West Tennessee and the whole state. That’s hard to replace. We can’t really replace him. We just want to continue what he built.”
Jacobs, whose retirement will kick in when school ends next week, is still, like most retirees, figuring out what post-work life will look like. He plans on swimming more in his backyard pool, spending more time with his two grandsons and says he will still make appearances at Brighton sporting events.
“This summer I won’t have to get up every morning at five o’clock,” Jacobs said. “I probably will anyway … I’ve enjoyed it. It was a lot of fun for a long time.”