If you are into stories of personal triumph, coaching excellence and legendary figures who exhibit a selfless human dedication, embodying everything that American athletics should be about, then the new book “Becoming Coach Jake: A Story of Overcoming the Odds, on the Soccer Field and Beyond” is for you.
#ICYMI, Coach Martin Jacobson and @bilsap held a Q&A at Shakespeare & Company on the Upper West Side last night, to discuss their new book BECOMING COACH JAKE: https://t.co/63bQC5R2uS. Thanks to all those who came out! #soccer pic.twitter.com/Y19fAcMZz9
— Skyhorse Publishing (@skyhorsepub) September 20, 2019
Tragedy To Triumph To Life Changer
In the Fall of 2018, Martin Luther King Jr. High School’s boy’s soccer program won its 18th New York City public school championship to cap a 19–0 season in which it was ranked no. 3 in the country.
Legendary boy’s soccer coach Martin Jacobson, who won his first of 18 championships in 1996, three years after he became head coach at the school, had cultivated another winning squad, continuing to make history in the process.
But Coach Jake’s story is more than just a soccer tale. It’s a life’s journey that has taken him to the depths of hell and back. His early struggles, which included drug abuse and incarceration, and multiple failed marriages encouraged a transformation which led to his ascension as the angelic protector for hundreds of immigrants — from places like Mexico, Columbia, Trinidad, Jamaica, Senegal, Mali, and Haiti — some of them homeless or parentless.
Coach Jake gave these kids an opportunity to gain some direction in both the classroom as well as on the field. Becoming Coach Jake highlights some of those individuals’ stories and brings to light how, with Jake’s guidance, many of them have gone on to achieve great success in their adult lives.
The journey of legendary Martin Luther King High School soccer coach Martin Coach Jake Jacobson can’t be put into perspective by simply acknowledging the trunkload of New York City Public School Athletic League city championships and well over 400 games that the 73-year-old former heroin addict and Hepatitis C survivor has won in the past three decades.
2019…The Glory And The Struggle Continues
This season, Jacobson’s 24th as soccer coach, MLK came up just short in its bid to win a fourth straight City Championship, losing a controversial overtime penalty kick shootout.
Team Captain and senior Yaya Bakayoko (full scholarship to UNC-Chapel Hill) was red card ejected in the first 10 minutes, forcing MLK to play a man down for almost 90 minutes. They still managed to hold the lead until the last 10 minutes when the official called a crucial penalty in the box against them.
The score was tied 1 – 1 after two overtime periods and unfortunately lost in PK’s to be eliminated.
“My heart goes out to my 5 seniors,” Coach Jake told The Shadow League. “ All my seniors will be going on to college and we will continue to strive, work and bring the Cup back home next season.”
In four decades of coaching, Jake says he never had an official decide a game of that magnitude. It was another example of the hardships Coach Jake has endured and overcome within the game as well.
The winningest high school soccer coach in New York City PSAL history has built an empire and college feeder system without ever having basic resources like practice facilities or a true home field. Accomplishing the impossible with one hand always tied behind his back, Coach Jake’s still managed to touch twice as many lives as players he’s coached.
Rose Grows From Concrete
He arrived at MLK three decades ago and instead of undervaluing the proud immigrant community, he noticed that he had a gold mine of multicultural talent available at a school with an English-as-a-second-language program that accepted students from other parts of the city.
Jacobson, a renown coach and student of the pitch, tapped into the pipeline of soccer talent trained in West African, Caribbean and South American countries and quickly transformed the forgotten school into a soccer empire blooming with prideful future college students, U.S. citizens and positive contributors to society.
Becoming Coach Jake
When Jacobson launched the soccer dynasty in 1994, he described MLK as a “dysfunctional high school…very chaotic in the ’80s.”
He says he started with a ragtag group of kids with a passion for soccer. He had seven kids from Trinidad on that team. In ’94, they were winless. The first goal was to teach them that if they work hard, wins follow. Three years later, MLK won the school’s first city championship and also had the first kid from the program to play Major League Soccer.
“So around that time, people started hearing about us,” Jake said, “and our kids started getting recognized by colleges and enrolling in schools after King.”
MLK won in 96, 97 and 98, took second in 99 and recovered to win five PSAL titles in a row. The rest is history.
Jacobson pridefully tells the Shadow League, You know the old adage from the movie Field of Dreams, ‘If you build it they will come.’”
In this book, Jacobson teams up with seasoned journalist Bill Saporito to detail the triumph achieved both on the field and far beyond. To this day Jacobson is battling, as the program struggles to overcome inequalities in sports offerings and resources for minority schools like MLK.
He’s also dealing with his own health problems while racing Mother Nature to solidify his legacy with artistic offerings that put his life into full perspective for those who may not know of his remarkable, educational journey.
The book is available on hardback or kindle at amazon.com