Leaving home to go home
For Janet Havelka, it’s time for retirement 2.0. Having stepped off the sidelines six years ago to become a full-time physical education teacher, Havelka has tendered her resignation from that position and is ready to take it easy.
“I’m ready,” Havelka said. “I’m ready to do something different. I’ve been thinking about it. Most teachers know when it’s time to go.
“I really can’t wait.”
Havelka plans to move in the Georgetown area near Jarrell where she is from and where her parents still reside.
“I’m going to live in the country, help my parents out and travel. Just enjoy life.
“I’m ready to relax and do what I want to do for a while.”
Havelka leaves again as the winningest girls basketball coach in Rockdale High School history with 320 victories, 10 playoff appearances and six district championships.
Havelka joked that she’s been in Rockdale so long that when she got here, the girls teams were still called the “Tigerettes.”
“She has a lot of wins and a lot of championships,” said RISD Athletic Director Jeff Miller. “She has given these girls more than that. Something they can use and will remember the rest of their lives.” “Those kids are so precious,” she said. “You impact more kids because you see them all. The little ones are dear to my heart.”
In the beginning
Her first season at Rockdale ended with a 14-14 overall record and 7-5 in district. The Lady Tigers dropped seven of their first nine that year.
After that, the Lady Tigers strung together an impressive run, with 10 playoff teams in 17 years, six district championships, three bi-district titles and area and regional crowns.
During their run of five straight district championships from 1994-97, the Lady Tigers reeled off 41 straight district wins, which ended with backto back losses to Cameron and Smithville in 1998.
From 1993 through 1998, Rockdale was 56-1 in district.
“It had to come to an end and the kids felt bad when it did,” Havelka remembered. “You would have thought we had just lost in the state tournament.”
Havelka suffered through her worst year as coach in 2007, her final season, going 6-22 overall and 0-8 in district play and admits it’s hard to leave on a sour note.
“If you could paint a picture of how you want to leave—winning season, playoffs—that’s not what I wanted for my last coaching job.”
It was the least amount of wins since the Lady Tigers went 9-18 in 2001.
It was just the fourth time in Havelka’s tenure that Rockdale did not finish district play with a winning record and the first time they did not win a district contest.
“It was different,” she said. “It was stressful because I always want my kids to be successful.”
After losing two valuable starters who moved to other school districts, the Lady Tigers were left vulnerable.
“The kids fought and worked hard. We were competitive.
“It was a growing pains kind of a season, sometimes you have to go through that to reach the ultimate goal—winning.”
Havelka can start to look back now at her coaching legacy.
“ The number one thing is the consistency,” she said. “And the ability to have talent. They believed in the system and were successful.
“We dominated the district for years.”
Havelka joked six years ago that she wishes she would have purchased a house all those years ago.
“Coaches never buy houses, because they never think they’re going to be where they are that long,” she said. “I would have never thought that I would have been here as long as I have.”
“In a way, Rockdale is like my second home,” she said. “You meet a lot of people and then you build a friendship with those people.
“And some of the kids that I have coached have kids of their own now.
“I look at all the good and talented girls that have come through here and some are teachers and doctors now,” she said. “The kids that have made something of their lives and I realize how important athletics are in people’s lives.”
Havelka admitted she has had her ups and downs as coach, but remained true to her disciplinary style.
“I knew that if I could get the kids to believe in the system we could have some success,” she said. “They have and that’s why we have been successful.”
She chalked up her 300th win early in the 2005-06 season when a game they had lost, had to be forfeited because of an ineligible player.
“It’s a great milestone,” she said at the time. “It’s important, but it’s not the reason I’m doing this. It means I have had some special kids. When it comes time to retire, in some ways it will mean a lot more. It’s something I can look back on and have special memories.”
Now, she can start looking.
Honors—District coach of the
year: 1994, 95, 96, 97 and 2000.
Brazos Valley coach of the year in
District—Six district championships
(94, 95, 96, 97, 99, 2000); three
bi-district champions; area and
regional champs. From 1993-98,
Rockdale was 56-1 in district play.
Streaks—During their run of five
straight district championships from
1994-97, the Lady Tigers reeled off
41 straight district wins.
Playoffs—10 playoff teams in 17
Ranking—The 1999 Lady Tiger
team reached No. 5.
Rock dale’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).