Thursday, Oct. 18, 2007
Louisiana College latest stop in coach’s decades-old career
By JEFF MATTHEWS
Jack Carlisle just can’t stay away.
The veteran football coach “retired” in 1994. Since then, he has had several jobs, including his current post working with kickers and punters at Louisiana College.
Whenever he walks away, he always intends to stay gone. But then the phone rings and it’s a coach asking him to come help out with this or that and he can’t say no.
“I’m easy,” Carlisle said with a laugh. “I really just love coaching. It’s the only thing I ever wanted to do all my life.”
Carlisle, who turned 78 on Sept. 23, started his coaching career at Ethel (Miss.) High School in 1952. He would go on to coach at 10 different high schools -- most of them in the Jackson, Miss., area -- including stints at Jackson-Murrah and Jackson Prep, where his teams won three state titles in four years.
He served as an assistant at Ole Miss for three years and was coach at East Tennessee State from 1978-82. He was inducted into the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame in 2004.
“It’s kind of cool to have a Mississippi Hall of Famer as your kicking coach,” said John Michiels, one of three freshmen who are handling the kicking and punting for LC. “He knows his stuff. You actually feel like you’re learning to do it right.”
Carlisle had last coached at Mississippi College in 2003, also handling punters and kickers. His first contact from LC came from close friend and Wildcat booster Jim Rea.
Rea, who played on LC’s 1958 Rice Bowl team, knew how much of a struggle the kicking game had been for the Wildcats in 2006, and that they had several talented freshmen coming in who needed guidance.
He arranged a meeting between LC coach Dennis Dunn and Carlisle, who immediately hit it off. Soon, Carlisle was on his way to Pineville.
Dunn soon found out he had more than just a kicking coach.
“The first thing he said was, ‘Who’s your equipment guy? Give me that job. Who does your wash?’” Dunn said. “He’s been a real joy. He volunteers to do all the little things it’s difficult to find people to do.”
“They all have good, strong legs,” Carlisle said of the freshman trio of Michiels, John Babineaux and Josh Foster. “They might not make it this year, but they’re all going to be great kickers.”
Dunn raves about the “fantastic” job Carlisle has done with LC’s kickers, as well as the wealth of knowledge he brings to the staff. Carlisle said he feels right at home at LC and in Alexandria-Pineville, though he makes the trip back to Jackson and his understanding wife, Jean, as often as he can.
As well as the partnership has worked out, though, it is only short term. Carlisle, after all, has been coaching three times as long as some of his players have been alive. He’s older than many of their grandfathers.
Even long and distinguished careers have to come to an end. Then again, Jack Carlisle has been saying that to himself for more than 10 years.
“This is a young man’s game, and I’m certainly not a young man,” he said. “I think this is it. Now, I’ve said that before, but I do think this is it.”
(Editor’s Note: Jack Carlisle is the father of Jane Hubbard, a resident of Holly Springs and headmaster at Marshall Academy.)
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