Two of the area’s old-time athletic families were united when American Fork’s Jarod Ingersoll and Lehi’s Jamie Jacobsen tied the knot after she accepted a proposal made on a baseball diamond in front of the game crowd.
Within a few years, they had each accepted coaching positions at their respective former high schools and subsequently built highly successful, widely respected programs, Jarod in baseball at American Fork and Jamie in volleyball at Lehi – Region 4 and cross-town rivals, no less.
In the meantime, the couple welcomed three boys into their family, now aged 12, 9 and 3. They decided before the start of the school year that this would be Jamie’s last on the sidelines for a while as the children are requiring more help with their own activities.
In a finish worthy of a Hollywood script, the couple’s teams each won a state championship this year, the first for Jamie after seasons of near-misses, and the second for Jarod, who also skippered the Cavemen to the crown in 2012.
Their mutual passion for athletics brought the pair together in the first place and has left its mark on their family life ever since.
Jarod played baseball with Jamie’s brothers at SUU. She had graduated from college and was teaching history at Chandler Junior High in Arizona at the time. When the team headed south for a game at Arizona State, the brothers set the couple up on a blind date.
The rest, as they say, is history.
“She came up for more and more of our games,” Jarod said. “Like every one, she was all of a sudden there.”
He proposed on the grass between second base and the mound. She accepted without hesitation.
“I like to think it was the charm – what little charm there was,” Jarod said with a twinkle in his eye.
“We hit it off immediately,” Jamie said. “It was a really an easy courtship. I knew a proposal was coming, just not necessarily right then, though I did wonder why so many people were hanging around that day.”
Jarod had enrolled his teammates as co-conspirators and they had quietly spread the word so he would have the setting that he wanted.
“I was excited, even though it meant changes for me,” Jamie said.
She left Arizona and enrolled at SUU to study for her master’s degree. After the couple married, she ended up teaching one of Jarod’s classes with a bunch of other athletes.
“It was a little awkward, but we had fun with it,” Jarod said.
Jarod did his student teaching at Lehi. He was still there when he was asked to take over the American Fork baseball program in mid-season after the previous coach was dismissed. He finished the academic year at Lehi and then moved to American Fork full time.
He taught special education for three years and then was able to fill an opening in his actual degree specialties of physical education, lifetime activities and driver’s education. He just finished his 14th season with the Cavemen.
Two years after Jarod went to American Fork, Jamie unexpectedly followed him there.
“I was teaching at Lehi Junior High, and Chad Wilson had a midsummer opening in volleyball,” Jamie recalled.
Wilson, a longtime coach and administrator at Lehi, was the assistant principal supervising athletics at American Fork at the time.
“I interviewed thinking I would never get the job, but I was hired in July,” Jamie said. “We finished eighth in the state that year and I had good kids coming back.”
However, her alma mater took notice too.
“In the spring, Lehi called and offered me the job there,” Jamie said. “I took a month to decide what to do.”
She was already coaching a club team in Lehi then and the coaching position included a teaching job at the high school, so she eventually decided to accept it. She spent 11 seasons with the Pioneers.
“Once I made the decision, I called Angie Roberts and said she needed to be on the ship, too,” Jamie said.
Roberts remained her leading assistant coach during the entire stretch, but has also stepped aside now to care for her own growing family.
For the Ingersolls, the commitment to coaching has been their family’s frame of reference right from the beginning.
“Our kids have literally grown up in the gym or on the field,” Jamie said. “There was never really a discussion about whether we were going to go to each other’s games. I love watching Jarod do his thing. I brought a playpen for whichever kid needed one at the time and that was it.”
Jarod has been equally faithful attending Jamie’s contests through the years.
“I think we got more nervous for each other than for our own games,” he said.
But coordinating coaching and teaching schedules at two different schools with children at home who also have active involvement in sports hasn’t been easy.
“We used to joke that our life would have made a great reality series,” Jamie said.
Both of the older boys play football and baseball, and the 3-year-old just roams around wherever the family is.
“After school it’s like a whirlwind,” Jarod said. “Just trying to communicate is hard. We would come home at 9 at night, eat and get homework done, then get up and do it again the next day. Sometimes things would get a little tense.”
The coaches were in season at opposite times of the school year, but they would still have to allow for the offseason preparation that’s an inseparable part of prep sports these days.
“In baseball, we do a lot in fall and winter; it’s a year-round thing,” Jarod said.
“I’d say 90 percent of our conversations in the fall were about making sure we got everybody where they needed to be and covered everything that needed to be done,” Jamie said.
“The person in season got the upper hand as far as flexibility with the schedule,” she continued. “We’d give the benefit of the doubt with a few things, but there were days when we didn’t say 20 words to each other. It felt like a disaster sometimes.”
Jarod added, “There’s been times the grandparents have had to step up. We’ve been fortunate to live by family who can help.”
Still, the strains got so great that the Ingersolls reached a break point a few years ago, but they decided to keep going for a little longer.
“We just kept grinding,” Jarod said.
Jamie wanted to stay with this year’s seniors, who showed early on that they had special qualities as a group. The plan was to get to this season and then evaluate what was best for their family, and that’s what they did.
There were times though when having another coach in the house was also helpful.
“I think you truly understand what the other’s going through, the highs and lows of the season,” Jamie said. “I would often solicit Jarod’s advice on how to handle certain situations on my team.
“There’s a certain amount of understanding that you get from the other spouse who’s been down that same road before,” she continued. “He gets it, how frustrating things can be at times.”
“I echo those same things,” Jarod said. “Jamie is obviously a really smart person. I’m not always the best at thinking things through, and she has really helped me in that aspect especially.”
There’s no question that the Ingersolls relished each other’s successes this season, and their team’s stories had some definite similarities.
“What Jamie and her team did this year is awesome,” Jarod said. “Seeing what her team accomplished was as much fun to watch as being part of my own run. We both have great respect for high school kids who put their whole heart into something.”
“To see a whole team rally behind each other is really special,” Jamie said. “You don’t even recognize you’re playing so well because it happens so fast. We were really solid the whole weekend. It was just a joy to stand back and watch them play.”
As for the American Fork baseball team, “I thought that we’d be a good team and we talk every year about being in that last game and having a chance to win it all,” Jarod said.
“I knew we had a shot but I just can’t say enough about our kids. It was unbelievable, their toughness and leadership and how they came together."
The Ingersolls both acknowledged the indispensable help of others in the high-wire juggling act they’ve been living for the past decade.
“Both of us have been able to do this because of our assistant coaches,” Jarod said. “There’s no way we would have been able to manage it without them.”
Seeing each other accomplish their ultimate goals and watching the programs and communities come together while they did has been rewarding for both of them.
“She’s as proud of Lehi as I am proud of American Fork,” Jarod said. “We both love coaching but it’s the communities, the administrators, the parents and the players themselves who’ve done this. We’d like to think we had a little part in it, that’s all.”
Jamie added, “To look up in the stands and see people who love their town and to give them something to feel proud about is really special to be a part of. We both had blue-collar kids who worked hard and represented their communities well.”
“We’ve been blessed, no doubt about it,” Jarod concluded.