This time, Kristin Jacobs knew she was ready.
And she knew the situation was right.
Thus, the prodigal daughter has returned home to take over the Steinert High varsity girls’ basketball team, as Jacobs was named just the fifth head coach in program history in mid-November.
A member of the Steinert Athletic Hall of Fame, the former Kristin Voorhees brought a nice resumé to the Spartans—one which she did not feel she had two years ago when offered the head job at West Windsor-Plainsboro South.
“I just didn’t feel I was ready then,” said Jacobs, who was Bob Boyce’s assistant at West Windsor-Plainsboro North at the time. “It was my first official year of teaching, and I wanted to make sure of everything else. I sat there going ‘Well maybe Boyce will be on his way out soon and that may be an opportunity.’
“When (former Spartan coach Bryan) Rogers resigned I was like, ‘Well, the only two jobs I wanted was either where I was or where I came from.’ This was really a no-brainer for me.”
It was a no-brainer for Steinert, too, as Jacobs was a college assistant at both West Chester and Slippery Rock, helped out Tony Bowman at Stuart Country Day School and spent the last five seasons as the WW-P North JV coach/varsity assistant.
“People like Tony Bowman and Bob Boyce made me look quiet,” she said with a laugh. “So I surrounded myself with them.”
After working for those chatter boxes, Jacobs knew she was ready when Steinert’s job opened.
“I had the extra experience,” she said. “Working with Boyce, he was so organized. He had everything planned down to the right detail. Game management-wise, seeing how he handled practices, players, meetings, what have you. I really think a couple extra years of seeing how he ran things was very helpful.”
The only thing it didn’t prepare her for was the fact she would now see why the coaches who influenced her so greatly were so nuts.
When she played for three years under Jim “Jules” Giglio, Jacobs was just a kid loving life playing sports.
“I can sympathize now,” she said. “I remember how Jules would act before or after a game in school and thinking, ‘He needs to calm down.’ And now I know why Boyce never sleeps.
“This is definitely more time consuming than being an assistant coach. I want to make sure I do the right things at the right times all the time. So I’m waking myself at 3:30 in the morning thinking about my man press break when I have to get up in three hours.”
Jacobs’ journey to head coaching began as a youth when she played for the St. Gregory’s CYO teams, while also playing Hamilton PAL and AAU ball for “the original Trenton Thunder, before there was a baseball team,” she said proudly.
At Steinert, Jacobs played four years of varsity soccer and basketball and played during the most successful girls’ hoops era in program history, when the Spartans won 62 games and two straight Mercer County Tournament titles during her four seasons. She also set the Steinert shot put record that still stands, although she says, “A few of my players are on the track team and say they are going to break it.”
After graduating in 1998, she earned a basketball scholarship at West Chester University and earned first-team All-Conference honors while serving as team captain.
She then served as a West Chester assistant for a year while getting her master’s degree in athletic administration. Jacobs moved on to Slippery Rock for a year, then worked with Bowman for two years before becoming a personal trainer in Hopewell for three years.
Although Jacobs did not go to school for teaching, she decided it’s what she wanted to do and went to WW-P North as an instructional assistant and Boyce’s assistant.
She is still teaching at North, but couldn’t be more thrilled at coaching her alma mater.
“It’s a dream come true and I just was telling the girls I just found these at my mom’s house, circa 1994,” Jacobs said, picking at her Steinert warm-up sweats. “I wore these for my game days. And I just took my varsity jacket out of the closet because we’re having player introduction night, and I want to promote school spirit.
“I loved high school. It was a great four years for me and it’s so great to come back. It’s still surreal for me to figure out this is my job and I’m here.”
Jacobs inherits a team with eight seniors, who have made the transition smooth. In the preseason, she did not meet much resistance to what she put in, mostly because the players were used to it.
“Why change what’s worked before?” she said just prior to the season opener with Trenton. “I’m starting with keeping a lot of things very similar. After I see what we need and what we have we’ll make adjustments. I’m trying not to re-invent the wheel here. But they’re smart players and if I give them something new they pick it up.”
Jacobs is also happy to have the help of her mentor Giglio, who is the freshman coach, and new JV coach James Angiolino.
“Having eight seniors has been fantastic and a blessing,” she said. “And the coaching staff I have has just made it that much easier.”
The veteran member of that staff is delighted to have Jacobs on board.
“As soon as I found out (Rogers) resigned she was the first person on my list to call because she always said this would be her dream job to come back and coach the Spartans,” said Giglio, who has been part of the program for 25 years. “She was one of the toughest girls I ever coached. She brings this program a lot of knowledge, a lot of enthusiasm and a lot of energy.
“The girls really responded to her right away and really love her. Her practices are very intense. We’ll have some growing pains, but I am happy to have her in the program since I am the ‘elder statesman.’ I’m looking forward to seeing the pupil coach and will help her out any way I can.”
The pupil will take that help, of course. After all, listening to others is all part of being ready for the job.