So, when are you going to retire?
If Chesterton coach Jack Campbell had a dollar for every time he got that question, he could have moved to Florida a long time ago.
"'When are you going to quit? When are you going to change gears?' People are always asking me," Campbell said. "It's one of those deals where I never got into it with any time schedule. It's just been a part of what I do. I've never really thought beyond the next coming year."
In an era when most coaches don't stick around long enough to garner farewell gifts, the soon to be 69-year-old Campbell is the exception. He has been braving region springs since 1970, when he began coaching baseball at Chesterton, where he has also been the girls basketball coach for 25 years following various other stints in hoops.
"There is something to be said for longevity," Campbell said. "I've made the comment before that I don't like to do one thing 12 months a year. I've never necessarily had a so-called dream job. The last several years, people have gotten them, and they turned out to be a nightmare. You get a job, and you try to make a dream of it."
Back in Campbell's East Gary days, his parents emphasized, "When you start something, finish it. Don't quit in the middle." Over half a century later, he still is listening.
"Maybe I took it to the extreme level," he said. "I've never been a big one for change. I don't necessarily know why. You've been somewhere a period of time, I guess you get comfortable with that, and you don't feel like getting out. I still enjoy the challenge of putting a team together each year, the competition, working on the field, all the other stuff."
On Jan. 25 in Indianapolis, Chesterton baseball's No. 24 will be inducted into the Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame. In addition to winning more than 600 games as a coach, Campbell played at Indiana (along with basketball), where the tall lefty led the Big Ten in hitting as a senior. E.C. Washington product Kenny Lofton is also among the five honorees.
"I may have coached against Kenny Lofton," Campbell said.
Campbell's coaching duties don't tend to overlap, but in this rare instance, they will. The induction banquet coincides with a girls basketball game at Lake Central. Campbell had hoped for a re-schedule, but it couldn't be worked out. Close friend and assistant coach Fred Mitchell, for whom Campbell was a boys assistant decades ago, will call the shots that night, something Mitchell might jab that he's been doing anyway.
"I'll be texting him while I'm sitting," Campbell said. "I've never been a 'me' guy, one for numbers, whether it's victories, years, anything like that, but this is such a special honor, I'd hate to miss it."
Besides, knowing Campbell, there'll be plenty more games to coach, whether it's from court side or the dugout.
This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at email@example.com.