LONGTIME JASPER COUNTY BASKETBALL COACH ENJOYS SPENDING TIME OFF THE SIDELINES
He’s traveled just outside of Columbia to see his grandson play basketball. He’s visited one son in Tennessee and another in Atlanta, and he and his wife of 37 years, Jacklyn, are planning a cruise.
He’s played a lot of golf.
Jeremiah Faber is enjoying his time away from the basketball court — his first season not stalking the sidelines in one of his signature suits in 35 years.
The former Ridgeland-Hardeeville High School boys varsity coach began teaching in the Jasper County School District in 1984 and started coaching basketball in 1985. He won 565 games, 11 region titles and three Lower State titles. The Jaguars reached the state final three times — in 2015, 2018, 2019 — but Faber never could claim a state crown.
Last October, the Ridgeland resident decided to step away, resigning as the high school coach and as athletic director of the middle school.
Since mid-December he has stepped in as a part-time athletic director at the high school, setting his own hours, but he’s no longer formulating game plans or repeatedly practicing the full-court press during the week.
Instead, he’s spending more time with his wife and getting a chance to see his family.
“I am at peace with my decision,” said Faber, who turns 63 in March.
Jasper County’s school board voted unanimously to name the Ridgeland-Hardeeville High gym the Jeremiah Faber Sr. Gymnasium.
Faber said he initially missed the routine of practice and the sense of camaraderie with his players, but he stayed away from the gym when the season began. He checked the internet for scores and waited to hear from new coach Kevin Wilson after the games.
But any desire to return to coaching has been offset by the opportunities to see his grandson play at Westwood High School in Blythewood.
Faber said he would rarely see Jaylen, a junior, play when he coached, but in retirement he’s had opportunities to watch the guard in action.
“I really enjoy watching him play,” Faber said. “Now I see basketball in a different light. Coaching, I saw it as more of me trying to will my players to the next level; when I watch my grandson play, I try to help him to develop skills. It’s not demanding, it’s nurturing and helping him be aware of different things.”
And though Faber has retired, he still finds himself back at the gym every now and then — as athletic director, he’s there during Ridgeland-Hardeeville High’s home games, and he’s still invested in the team’s success.
In December, the Jaguars lost at home to Whale Branch High School. After the game,
Wilson, who had been Faber’s longtime assistant, asked him to speak to the team. Faber had coached many of those players. It all came back to him.
“I told them, ‘Every game is an opportunity to make a play,’” he said. “I said, ‘The same effort that you would have given me, you need to give to Coach Wilson. He’s your head coach.’”
The team responded by winning nine of its next 10 games, including eight in a row, en route to winning 18 games in the regular season and a region title.
The gym is a place of comfort for Faber, and soon it will be a place that bears his name. Jasper County’s school board voted unanimously recently to name the Ridgeland-Hardeeville High gym the Jeremiah Faber Sr. Gymnasium. A formal naming ceremony is planned for March 21.
“I never would have given that even a thought; it’s just amazing,” he said. “I’m thankful to my family, my wife. She stuck beside me. That honor of the gym is just as much hers as it is mine.”
Faber said he always tried to be an influence on and off the court. He was the coordinator for the school’s chapter of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and tried to be a mentor. He’s troubled by recent shootings in Beaufort and Jasper counties, which have often involved youngsters.
There were 15 homicides in Beaufort County in 2019, including the shooting death of 18-year-old Trey Blackshear of Hilton Head Island two days before Christmas. Two 16-year-olds and a 19-year-old were among four suspects charged in connection with the shooting.
An 18-year-old Lady’s Island man was charged with murder in connection with the shooting death of a 20-year-old man in November.
And in Jasper County, a 21-year-old Ridgeland man was charged in October in connection with a drive-by shooting that injured a 10-year-old boy. Faber hopes future conflicts can peacefully be resolved.
“One of the biggest things is, our young people don’t know how to handle conflict resolution,” Faber said. “You don’t have to always stand your ground. You respect someone, but if the situation gets too hot, you walk away from it. At the end of the day, we all want to go home. You don’t always have to be involved. That’s hard for young people to do today.”