Fargo Shanley Head Coach Tim Jacobson is welcomed to the court by player parents for the semifinal game in the North Dakota Class A basketball tournament against Grand Forks Red River on Friday, March 13, 2015, in the Fargodome. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor
FARGO—Tim Jacobson, the head coach who has guided Fargo Shanley's girls basketball program to a state-record 70 consecutive wins, surprised many by accepting the head coaching job at nearby Fargo Davies High School.
"It surprised everybody," said Jacobson, who was officially named Davies head coach Friday, May 6. "It surprised us."
Jacobson has strong ties with Shanley, a private Catholic school located in south Fargo. His father was an original member of the Shanley Quarterback Club back in the 1950s. His family attended Shanley. He coached the Shanley boys basketball team to two state titles.
"At some point, I thought Tim would be retiring but I guess him deciding to go to Davies was a little bit of a surprise," said Shanley athletic director Michael Breker. "When I talked to Tim, he got a little emotional about it. He certainly hasn't made this decision lightly. He's meant a lot to this community and this community has meant a lot to him. There certainly aren't any hard feelings over this."
Jacobson said he was ready to coach a Shanley team—despite losing all-state players Sarah Jacobson and Lauren Rotunda—that he thinks has a good chance of making another run for a state championship. But when Tonah Safranski recently stepped down as the Davies head girls basketball coach, the 61-year-old Jacobson applied for the job at the school located about 15 blocks south of Shanley.
"I saw it as a wonderful challenge," Jacobson said. "It was a very tough spot to make that decision to leave Shanley. But I'm at that point now where we have accomplished a lot. I've always enjoyed moving into a new program. That's why I look at this as a great opportunity.
"All of a sudden, there it was. At my age, it's one of these kind of jobs that just won't pop up very often."
Shanley coach Tim Jacobson on the sidelines in 2011. Dave Wallis / The Forum
Jacobson has had success at most schools he has coached.
From 1981 to 1986, he coached girls basketball at Finley-Sharon where his 1985 team won a North Dakota Class B state championship. He then coached three years at Lake Region Community College in Devils Lake, where he guided two teams to national tournaments.
After coaching the Shanley boys to two state titles, he coached three years at Roseville High School in suburban Minneapolis—where his son Nick played before his college career at Utah. After that, he started coaching the Shanley girls.
"It's always a surprise when somebody of the caliber and experience that Tim has applies for a job like this," said Davies athletic director Lenny Ohlhauser, who interviewed a total of three candidates. "It was a pleasant surprise. With Tim's experience and his knowledge of the game, we felt he was the best candidate to continue to build our program."
Davies returns four starters—including Grace Geffre and Carly Kottsick who each averaged 14 points per game—from last year's team that compiled a 17-7 record. Shanley, meanwhile, loses four seniors from last year's state championship team but returns with starting post player Emily Dietz and players from a junior varsity team that went undefeated last year.
"We set high standards at Shanley and the girls met that ... and I expect them to continue that," Jacobson said. "Now we want to bring that into Davies. I had a tremendous experience at Shanley. I think it's now time to move on and go to the next challenge."
Safranski will continue teaching physical education at Davies. Jacobson will continue his full-time job as principal at an elementary school in nearby Mapleton, N.D.