Jimtown legend Bill Sharpe looks to balance his family and football emotions

With son, David, coaching at Glenn, former Jimtown great Bill Sharpe has mixed feelings about returning to Baugo.

Posted on Aug. 28, 2014 at 6:31 p.m.

ELKHART — Emotions are tugging at all the Sharpes this week. Forgive them if they’re a bit off their football game.

Let’s begin with David, the second-year head coach at Glenn and former Jimtown player and coach. His wife, Kristen, is expecting their family’s second child at any moment. In fact, she’s about a week overdue. 

Makes week-long game preparation seem trivial.

Then there’s Bill, the Jimmies’ Hall of Fame, four-time state championship coach and David’s father — the face of Baugo Township for more than 30 years. He’ll return to Knepp Field on Friday night, Aug. 29, for the first time since he retired as AD two summers ago. It’s a stadium he helped care for and one he adores for its many treasured memories.

The night, though, is one he wants to be over with quickly.

"If I go, and right now we’re not, Kathy and I just may stay in my car and look through the end zone,“ Sharpe said earlier this week. ”I don’t want to sit on the visitors side. I’ve never been there in my life.“

Friday, Aug. 29, Week 2 

■ Concord (1-0) at Elkhart Memorial (0-1), 7:30 p.m.

■ Goshen (0-1) at Elkhart Central (1-0), 7:30, www.elkhartcountysports.com 

■ Glenn (1-0) at Jimtown (0-1), 7:30, www.broadcastsport.com 

■ NorthWood (1-0) at Fairfield (0-1), 7:30, Truth Radio 1340www.elkhartcountysports.com

■ Northridge (1-0) at South Bend Riley (1-0), 7 

■ West Noble (1-0) at Wawasee (1-0), 7:30, WAWC 103.5, www.willie103.5.com 

■ New Prairie (0-1) at Mishawaka Marian (1-0), 7, www.rrsn.com, WHME TV-46 (tape delay), 11 p.m. Friday; 9 a.m. Saturday 

■ Penn (1-0) at Portage (0-1), 7:30 (Elkhart time) WTRC 95.3, WGCS 91.1 www.rrsn.com

Bill also could head to the press box or on top of the structure with the assistants for a birds-eye view, but that, he said would be tough on them, not to say what it would be doing to him.

Bill Sharpe’s apprehension shouldn’t be read the wrong way. For those who don’t know him, he may seem like a very complex individual with his precise structure and sense of organization. Visions of his cluttered office aside, he’s a pretty grounded man.

For those who do know him, he may be as simple a man as you’d ever know.

"He likes to slip under the radar,” David says. “He knows what he wants. I really don’t care either way. I just want 11 white shirts to play well. He feels he’s taking away from 22 kids on the field who’ve worked their whole life for this moment ... just Walkerton kids and Baugo kids. That’s what it should be about.”

Exactly. That’s what it should be all about. Bill Sharpe returning “home” shouldn’t take a moment of shine coming off Dave’s Falcons and Mike Campbell’s Jimmies. But he’s fearful that it will.

"It’s a miserable feeling,” Bill said. ”You want your kid to be successful, but to do that, you’ve got to hurt people you love. I’ve grown up with a lot of those coaches. They’re like family.”

Then there’s the innocence of a question Bill is bound hear before the game — who is he going to cheer for? It’s a question, David said, his dad simply doesn’t want to answer. Honestly, he shouldn’t have to, either.

If it helps at all, the answer is as easy a Jimmie trap call — Bill Sharpe will hope for a great game, he’ll pray no one gets seriously hurt and he’ll pull for his son’s team to win. Some in Baugo might not get that, others already know it.

It’s the way it should be. David Sharpe is family. Jimtown is family. Bill Sharpe’s family will always come first no matter what school colors Dave wears.

Tonight, black and red trump maroon and gold.

"It’s such a bizarre, unique scenario, no matter what profession it is,” David said. “Your son is competing at the place you kind of built from the ground up. It’s very awkward. Very few can fathom going through that.”

Young David, on the other hand, relishes the opportunity to show off his athletes to the community he was so rooted in. Like his dad did in the early 1980s, he’s trying to set a foundation for a winning program.

"I’m excited to play in the spotlight. I want to personally show everyone how hard we play,” David said. ”Our kids are just like Jimtown kids. They’ll line up correctly, they’ll be communicating to each other correctly, they’ll not take a play off, they’ll finish blocks and they’ll finish runs.”

As for his dad? David is straightforward and to the point about that, just like his father would be.

"If he’s happier skipping this one, he’ll be seeing the Falcons at Knox next week.”

Bill Sharpe will likely attend. I just hope he can find a way to enjoy.

Bill Beck is The Elkhart Truth sports editor. Follow him on Twitter @eTruthSports or @BillBeckTruth.



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