Huntley's Jakubowski joining IHSBCA Hall of Fame
In his playing days at Northeastern Illinois University, 5-foot-8, 165-pound Andy Jakubowski would joke that he was the smallest Division I first baseman in the country.
Now, at least figuratively, he's one of the biggest baseball coaches in the state.
Huntley's 15-year coach will be inducted into the Illinois High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame, Jan. 25 in Lombard.
"It's definitely an incredible honor," said Jakubowski, who at 47 still has plenty of baseball left.
With a record of 327-192-2 for the Red Raiders and 422-308-2 overall in 20 years spanning stops at Rockford Boylan and Jacobs as a prep head coach, Jakubowski's Huntley teams have won six Fox Valley Conference titles and seven regional titles, the last four straight.
"We pride ourselves on pitching and defense," he said.
It's led to three sectional titles, a 2018 Class 4A second-place finish and the 2010 fourth-place trophy. Jakubowski has led three Elite Eight appearances in summer ball.
"When I look at the Illinois High School Baseball Coaches Association, who's in the Hall of Fame, and seeing Gordie Gillespie, (Barrington) coach Kirby Smith, (Lockport) coach Jim Hall, it's an impressive list. I never really think of myself in their league, and just to be nominated and accepted is quite an honor," Jakubowski said.
Speaking of impressive, the Jakubowskis of Lake in the Hills are like their own athletic Mount Rushmore.
Andy's wife, Michelle, who he met while she played volleyball at Northeastern Illinois, is the girls volleyball coach at Barrington. She served two years as Huntley athletic director and also racked up more than 350 wins coaching volleyball at Huntley, Lake Zurich and Winnebago.
Oldest daughter Taryn Jakubowski was a soccer star at Huntley, captain of the 2016 Daily Herald Fox Valley All-Area Girls Soccer Team after leading the Red Raiders to fourth place in Class 3A. A midfielder at Creighton, she graduated early and is considering a professional career.
A little more than a month ago Huntley senior Taylor Jakubowski was named captain of this paper's Fox Valley All-Area Girls Volleyball Team. A four-year all-area pick, as a setter her 3,208 assists rank third all-time in Illinois. She's set to play at Seton Hall.
Reflecting their father's roots, 12-year-old T.J. and Jake, a junior at Huntley, play baseball.
"I think it's really cool, all the hard work and dedication toward Huntley High School that he's put in, whether it's practice plans or summer stuff. It's just well-deserved for him," said Jake Jakubowski, a junior right-handed pitcher with one of the sportiest names in the northwest suburbs.
A summer league bat boy during his middle-school years, Jake also saw his father get tossed from a few ballgames. Andy Jakubowski admitted he was a fiery, "Billy Martin type, an Earl Weaver," partial to explosion.
Those old dirt kickers look good in grainy highlight films, not so much on today's high school diamonds.
"Most people respond to not yelling anymore," Jake said.
If you want your players to buy into a team approach -- Jakubowski's deceptively simple yet difficult goal, which has become his hallmark -- the coach must be part of that culture change.
"I've definitely evolved as a coach," Andy said.
That means scouting YouTube for the latest drills, Jake noted, seeking input on new equipment, creating fun "theme practices," soliciting players' opinions. And simmering down.
"It's probably helped that I've mellowed out," Andy said, "to show that if bad things happen you can keep calm and keep your cool and find other ways to overcome adversity."
Keep calm and enjoy the ride. When asked, Jakubowski said the relationships he's built with his players and assistant coaches are what stand out in his hall of fame career.
Losing that 2018 championship game 4-3 to Plainfield North? That "was hard," Jakubowski said.
Little of value comes easy.
"That 2018 group," he said, "just like that 2010 group, they have special memories that they'll never take back."