A long time coming

For 16 years, Saegert found the grass was greener here


Through the years, James Saegert has seen a lot of talent come through the Tiger football program and has left his mark on offense and defensive linemen. Through the years, James Saegert has seen a lot of talent come through the Tiger football program and has left his mark on offense and defensive linemen. I n a profession which has about as much stability as a leaky row boat,

James Saegert has been the epitome of equilibrium.

But for the first time since 1995, when the summer sun is beating down on this year’s crop of Tiger football players, Saegert will not be there to spur them on.

The man who began his coaching career when the movie Jaws was causing a world wide sensation and gas was priced in double digits, has decided to hang up the whistle after 36 years on the sideline, 16 of that in Rockdale.

His lengthy tenure in Tigerland puts him as one of the most durable coaches in RHS history.

Only the legendary baseball/ girls basketball coach Ernie Laurence and girls basketball coach Janet Havelka have served longer.

Since 1975, the RHS defensive line coach has worked with 14 head coaches and has never had to leave a coaching position, which, in high school football, is an anomoly.

“It’s not always the case that high school coaches get to choose when to leave. Sometimes the choice is made for them,” Tiger Head Coach Jeff Miller said. “The number one thing with Saegert is that he takes his teaching duties seriously and does a good job in the classroom. He’s loyal to the high school and district. He’s responsible and therefore he’s given the option to return to school.”

It’s no coincidence that the traits listed above were the same qualifications Miller looked for when choosing his coaches. “I’ve been fortunate in that I’ve never had to leave any place,” Saegert said in a 2007 interview. “It’s been a good experience because I’ve been able to work with a lot of very good head coaches and I don’t have the hassle of moving but it’s been fun because I get the challenge of working with new people.”


James and Cindy Saegert raised two daughters in the Rockdale school system and are deeply involved in the Brazos Valley Fellowship of Christian Athletes. 
Reporter/Bill Martin James and Cindy Saegert raised two daughters in the Rockdale school system and are deeply involved in the Brazos Valley Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Reporter/Bill Martin And Saegert saw his fair share of change throughout his career. Of the 14 head coaches he worked under, three were in Rockdale.

“I was once at a place for five years and they were about to start on their fifth head coach,” he said.

Saegert—a Sam Houston graduate—came to Rockdale as offensive/defensive line coach when former RHS coach Casey Creghan hired him in 1995. He previously spent 12 years in Lampasas, part of the time as defensive coordinator and five years at Lexington as defensive coordinator, where in 1978 he helped coach the team at the state finals.

He also spent a couple of years in Mesquite.

His father-in-law’s failing health, spurred Saegert to move toward Rockdale. He wanted his family to be closer to relatives.

His wife, Cindy—a junior high teacher—grew up in Forest Grove and he grew up nearby, just outside of Lexington.

“With a job like mine there is no time for a two- to threeday trip to come visit and we wanted to make sure the kids got to know their grandparents,” Saegert said. “It’s important to his family and Cindy not to move around very often,” Miller said. “When young ones have a great place to live it gives them a lot better chance to be successful. And both Saegert’s kids are extremely successful,” Miller said.

Saegert’s two daughters attended Texas A&M. The youngest, Erica, was in the top 10 percent of her class at RHS in 2007. The oldest, Elizabeth, was RHS valedictorian in 2006.

“I’d say family and consistency with kids is big, huge factor in my staying,” Saegert said.

“When someone comes in new to a place and wants to improve a program it helps to have someone who gives sta- bility to a program,” his wife, Cindy said. Coaches who stick around can be invaluable to a new head coach coming in.

“He’s been through the good and bad,” Miller said. “He was helpful in what people think and he helped me a lot with what to expect out of the kids,” Miller said.

He has seen more of the good than the bad of the program and has been a part of three district championships (1995, 1998, 1999) and 11 playoff trips in 16 years.

He was spoiled after the Tigers won a district crown in his first year here.

The Tigers have also won two consecutive district track crowns. He works with the weightmen where Le’Raven Clark has gone to the state track meet that last two years and pocketed two medals.

While he has been an assistant for most of his tenure, he was the head track coach for two years.

Fellowship

The Fellowship of Christian Athletes organization is extremely important to the Saegerts and they are deeply involved.

They have led the FCA Huddle group for the past eight years.

Saegert was rewarded for his efforts by being named the FCA coach of the year in March.

“Coach Saegert is the epitome of what a professional and role model should look like,” said Miller. “Not only is he a great coach of athletics, he is a great coach of life. I cannot say enough about how much he has meant to the students of this school district.”

“ The Saegerts are the most honest, hard-working, self less people I know,” said Tiger baseball coach Jarad Richards. “They both would do anything for anyone.”

“Both of my boys have gone to FCA here in Rockdale with the Saegerts and it is a great thing they are doing for our youth,” said Tiger Coach Bart Gibbs.

As you can see, the void Saegert will leave, transcends the football field and the Friday night lights.

“Coach Saegert is the epitome of what a professional and role model should look like,” said Miller. “Not only is he a great coach of athletics, he is a great coach of life. I cannot say enough about how much he has meant to the students of this school district.”

ROCKDALE HIGH SCHOOL’S LONGEST COACHING TENURES

17 years—Ernie Laurence, baseball, girls basketball (1954-1971).
17 years—Janet Havelka, girls basketball, volleyball (1990-2007).
16 years—James Saegert, head track, football assistant (1995-2011).
16 years—Duane Vincent, boys basketball, golf (1960-73, 76-79).
16 years—Larry Pipkin, baseball (1988-2004).
10 years—Casey Creghan, football (1994-2003).





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