A memoir about battling adversity, by the winningest high school soccer coach in New York City public school history! In the Fall of 2018, Martin Luther King Jr. High School’s boys soccer program won its 18th New York City public school championship to culminate a 19–0 season in which it was ranked no. 3 in the country. Martin Jacobson, whose first championship team was in 1996, three years after he became head coach, had put together yet another winning squad, continuing to make history in the process.
But Coach Jake’s story is more than just a soccer tale. In his time as coach at MLK, he has given hundreds of immigrants—from places like Mexico, Columbia, Senegal, Mali, and Haiti, and some of them homeless or parentless—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.
Along the way, readers learn how Coach Jake got to MLK after a drug-filled past that included multiple failed marriages and near-prison sentences, before quitting drugs and alcohol cold turkey in 1985 after several stints in rehab proved unsuccessful. Jacobson teams up with seasoned journalist Bill Saporito to detail the triumph achieved both on the field and far beyond.