HOPE — Bob Nobbe hopes his health scare is behind him.
But even if it is, the former Hauser boys basketball coach is at peace with his decision to retire from coaching after 27 years. The past 20 came as the Jets’ head coach.
“It was a tough decision, but (interim) coach (Griff) Roth is doing a great job,” Nobbe said. “It’s fun to come and watch the kids. They’re working hard, and hopefully will keep right on.”
Two years ago, Nobbe developed a detached retina in his right eye. Surgery was unsuccessful, and he coached last season with sight in only his left eye.
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Then last year, the retina in Nobbe’s left eye became detached. Surgery on that eye worked much better.
“It’s healing, and things are looking pretty good. Hopefully, that will continue.”
But just prior to the start of the basketball season, Nobbe knew he had to step away from the game. He had become accustomed to coaching with sight in only his left eye.
But the second time around, he knew he needed to be cautious and safe for himself and his family.
“I felt like it was a necessity to not be in the gym with basketballs bouncing around and the chance of somebody running into you,” Nobbe said. “I just needed to remove myself from that situation.”
In January, Nobbe returned to the classroom. He teaches government and economics at Hauser.
Teaching, Nobbe said, provides a little respite.
“I enjoy teaching,” he said. “I’m going to miss being on the sideline (coaching) and being with those guys, but teaching offers me an opportunity to still connect with these kids and have some of those same types of experiences.”
The Greensburg native spent his first seven years out of college teaching and coaching the junior varsity basketball team at Batesville. Then in 1996, Dave Irvine became Hauser’s athletics director and made Nobbe his first hire.
This winter, Nobbe and Irvine both retired within about a month of each other. Nobbe compared their relationship to that of crew chief Chad Knaus and driver Jimmie Johnson, who have won seven NASCAR Sprint Cup titles together; and to coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady, who have led the New England Patriots to five Super Bowl championships together.
“We kind of had the same thing going here,” Irvine said. “We had a lot of success together, and we always seemed to be on the same page. We always had the same idea about how our athletes should conduct themselves. I never questioned anything he did on the sidelines, and he never questioned anything I did behind the desk.”
This season, the Jets players, coaches and students have rallied in support of Nobbe. They form a big circle after each practice and game, and senior Pete Trotter leads them in prayer.
The school recognized Nobbe before its Feb. 28 game against Batesville.
“It was a really fun night because it brought back all those experiences and memories from seasons’ past,” Nobbe said.
Nobbe’s coaching career was highlighted by a Class A state title in 2006. That team went 25-2 and routed Tri-Central 64-36 in the state championship game.
But Nobbe also pointed to the 2011 and 2012 teams that got off to slow starts, but recovered to win sectional titles.
“There’s no question that (2006) was a special year, a special group of guys, but as I think back over the 20 years, I can think of a lot of special experiences and good times with all those groups of guys along the way,” Nobbe said. “When you set your goals at the beginning of the year and you go out and do something like win the state title, it’s going to be extra special.”
Nobbe also led Hauser to sectional titles in 2000, 2002 and 2005. The Jets added a regional title in ‘05, they year before winning it all.
Nobbe said he couldn’t have asked for a better opportunity at Hauser.
“I had a chance to work with some great young men over that time and some great assistant coaches, and the Hope community has always been very supportive,” he said. “What’s really been special is the kids that have gone through the program and the people I’ve gotten to work with and reflecting on those experiences over the years.”
Bob Nobbe’s coaching by the numbers:
Seasons: 20 (1996-97 to 2015-16)
Sectional titles: 6 (2000, 2002, 2005, 2006, 2011, 2012)
Regional titles: 2 (2005, 2006)
Semistate titles: 1 (2006)
State titles: 1 (2006)