Ten days is all it took for the Tipton-Rosemark Academy administration to find a new baseball coach, and they didn’t have to look far.
Jacob Cole, who had been an assistant at TRA for six years, accepted the head coaching position on Friday. He replaces Brad Smith, who resigned after 12-plus seasons at Rosemark to take the head job at Arlington High School.
Cole was a standout player for the Rebels during his high school days. A 2010 graduate, he was a big reason why TRA finished state runner-up in 2009.
He’ll be asked to continue the success the program achieved under Smith, who averaged 24 wins per season and took TRA to the state tournament four times.
“I was a sophomore when Brad got the job, so I know what it was like before he got here,” Cole said. “Seeing what he’s turned it into and helping him build it into what it is now, it’s definitely big shoes to fill. He’s been a big help to me in my career. I’m going to bounce a whole bunch of stuff off him in the future, I’m sure.”
Cole was one of 32 TRA players under Smith who went on to play college baseball. He signed with Bethel University in 2010. He reinjured his knee while there, hung up his spikes and transferred to UT-Martin.
While at Martin he was a volunteer assistant for the Westview High School baseball team. After he graduated from Martin he was hired as a teacher and assistant baseball coach at TRA in 2014.
Cole, 28, has had his eye on coaching since he was in high school. Still, he’s a little surprised to find himself in this role a decade after being a Rebel player.
“Coaching baseball was definitely in the back of my head back then,” Cole said. “It’s something I always wanted to do. I could probably see myself being an assistant back then, but not being the head coach 10 years later.”
Connor McLemore, another former TRA player, was recently hired to take Cole’s assistant coaching spot. Assistant coach Nick James also played baseball at TRA.
With COVID-19 restrictions still in place, when Cole and his staff can begin coaching their players remains uncertain.
“I’m not sure what the summer is going to look like yet,” Cole said. “I’m just ready for something to be said yes or no so I can get to work with the guys.”
One thing is certain, though. Cole and his former boss/coach will match wits on the field at some point.
“We haven’t worked out a date, yet, but we’re definitely going to play them.”