Fox baseball notes: Three area coaches reach new milestones

It has been a season filled with milestones reached by several area baseball coaches, including Huntley's Andy Jakubowski, Crystal Lake South's Brian Bogda, and South Elgin's Jim Kating.

Currently in his 17th year at Huntley, Jakubowski earned his 400th win with the Red Raiders during their 15-3 victory over Prairie Ridge on April 12.

Twelve days later, Jakubowski pocketed his 500th coaching victory during Huntley's 12-2 win over Jacobs - the school where he earned nearly the first 100 of his 22-year high school career.

After the game, coaches, and players, including Jakubowski's sophomore son, T.J., and older son, Jake, now playing at Heartland Community College, wore black T-shirts with 500 written on the front while posing for postgame photos.

"I have been blessed with players, coaches, administrators, and parents who have believed in what we are teaching," said Jakubowski, who received numerous gifts and plaques from parents and players. "When I first got into the coaching profession, my goal was to have as many players move on to the next level as possible, to get an education, and to get the same opportunity I had in my playing career.

"I still feel the same way today but to add to that - it is more about the relationships and evolving as a coach and mentor."

Baseball-wise, Jakubowski believes in core values - throwing strikes, playing good defense, situational hitting, and being aggressive on the bases.

"Currently, we have returners reading a book, called "The Power of a Positive Team," by Jon Gordon, along with discussing a podcast by Brian Cain," said the coach.

"We try to do a chapter each and I have been amazed with how our guys like to be around each other. I love the high school game and playing for the name on the front of your jersey versus the name on the back of your jersey."

Jakubowski credits his success to his family, among others.

"My family deserves the biggest credit for allowing me to do the thing I love - the game of baseball and molding young student athletes to achieve their goals of playing for Huntley High School," he said. "I also credit Bill Angelo and Justin Kees from ECC in taking a chance on a young coach who was removed from his position at Jacobs.

"They taught me that it wasn't just about winning and losing, it was about relationships, team, evolving as a coach, and how to win. I will always be grateful to Coach Angelo and the years I was at ECC. You must understand that I was a head coach for six years and thought I understood everything but after seeing how he ran his program, I realized I needed to change as a coach if I wanted to be successful."

Jakubowski also praised two coaches - Isse Sopena and Jim Hawrysko.

"Coach Sopena was my infield coach (at Northeastern Illinois) and my second father as a player," he said. "I was fortunate to coach his sons, Nathan, and Andre, after they moved from the city. Coach Hawrysko had a huge influence on me as well.

"Finally, my biggest coaching influence is my wife, Michelle. She helped me see coaching in a different way by having our players read books, team building, etc. Our careers have kind of mirrored each other but the best part of our relationship is that we can relate to one another and offer each advice. She is my biggest fan, but I have some work to do as she has 548 career wins (as a volleyball coach)."

Bogda recorded his 300th career win during the Gators' 9-2 victory over Cary-Grove on April 8.

"The achievement means a lot to me," said Bogda, who received a wooden "300" plaque after the game. "I have been fortunate to work with some talented young men over the years. I am thankful to have the support from our administration, athletic director, and our assistant coaches who put in a ton of work to make the program a successful one.

Bogda takes little credit for the big numbers.

"I defer all credit to the players I coach and have coached," he said. "They are the ones executing on the field. The victories are theirs. They put in the hard work at practice and in the offseason."

Bogda has learned a lot from watching others.

"I have had the pleasant opportunity to grow as a coach through other coaches past and present in our Fox Valley area," he said. "Coach Sutherland (Cary-Grove) and Coach Pecoraro (Prairie Ridge) are two coaches that have spent a lot of time helping me with creating a program and working on the day-to-day intricacies of being a head coach.

"I have also learned a lot about specific skills, techniques, and teaching the game from Coach Belo (Palatine), Coach Whalen (Grayslake Central), and Coach Jakubowski. I enjoy going to coaches clinics and continuing to learn and grow as a coach to help improve the young men I work with at CLS."

Kating, in his 17th year at South Elgin, recorded his 300th victory during his team's 12-0 victory over Larkin on April 19.

The next day, his players presented him with a "300" plaque that read, "Jim Kating - Baseball; South Elgin's Winningest Coach."

Kating, who was the 12th pick of the MLB Draft -January Secondary Phase in 1986 by the Los Angeles Dodgers, spent 5 seasons in the minor leagues, including the last two (1989-1990) with Double AA Huntsville (Oakland Athletics).

The power-hitting outfielder/first baseman hit 26 home runs over his minor league career. His best season came as a 21-year-old when he hit .263 with 13 home runs and 63 RBI for Class A Bakersfield (Dodgers).

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