Today we’re excited to launch a new segment that we’re calling On Deck. Our hope here is to shine some light on the people that help make D3swimming great. Coaches, swimmers, divers, alumni, we’re hoping to bring you closer to the people that drive the world of D3 swimming.
First up: Jake Taber, Head Coach at Albion College of the MIAA.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a coach?
When I was in college I would find myself looking ahead at upcoming competition and sketching out dual meet lineups, all the time. That led to a series of other things that contributed to me taking this route.
When and where did you start your college coaching career?
Fall of 2004 as an assistant at Hope College
First dual meet opponent as a head coach?
Technically it was Calvin, my first year as an assistant coach at Hope there was a meet that the head coach was unable to attend. It was a little overwhelming to walk into Calvin as a 22 year old but things went okay. The men won, women lost a close one if memory serves.
What has been your most memorable swimming moment as a head coach?
My first year here at Albion at the MIAA Championships. Things came together pretty well for us. I don’t think I’ll ever forget the 800 Free Relay to kick off the meet. The women shattered a school record to get things started and finished 3rd, up from 7th the year before. Then the men stepped up and pulled off an upset. I don’t think anyone outside of Albion expected it but the guys fed off the women’s performance and believed. Specifically to answer your question the most memorable moment was when the guys won that race.
Describe your relationship with swimming growing up.
Growing up I was a three sport athlete. Swimming was I did in the winter and then again on summer mornings but it wasn’t a lot beyond that.
It’s not a drill but a series. They’ve been referred to as Sonic’s for as long as I can remember…. 125’s done as 50 drill/25 applying that drill/25 same drill/25 build to race finish.
As a fan, who has been your favorite swimmer to watch (at any level)?
Anyone that is elite underwater I am a fan of.
Who are the individuals who have directly-influenced your coaching style?
Dr. John Patnott — my coach, mentor and friend has been the biggest influence. I talk to Scott Whitbeck and Chris Hamstra a couple times a week. Dave Stubbs was another that shaped a lot of my early coaching thoughts. I also love it when coaches will share information to be willing to help one another out. At the end of the day it’s about the student athlete. I remember several years back I was really early into my head coaching career and had a guy break his wrist. I called Gregg Parini and he spent 45 minutes with me talking about opportunities and experiences about how to help this specific guy get back. The last meet of this guys career was at the NCAA Championships.
Where would you be if you hadn’t become a coach?
I’d probably be the youngest GM in baseball. I thought about reaching out to Mike Illitch but I really love what I do, so why rock the boat, right?
What can you usually be found doing when you are not hanging out on the pool deck?
I’ve got two young kids, spending time with them. Tessa will be 3 in October and Colby will have his first birthday in November. They are a riot to be around. Fortunately they like the pool too — both were here the first week of class already.
What would you consider to be the key to becoming a successful student-athlete?
Prioritization, especially in college. There are distractions every where but if you’re going to be an athlete at the NCAA level, you need to identify with that ALL THE TIME. At home, over break, in class, walking around campus, on weekends, in the dining hall, ALL THE TIME. Time management is huge.
What are you most excited for in the upcoming season?
Loaded question… we’ve got a pretty decent sized incoming freshman class and plenty of personality in it. I’m really excited about it’s potential to fit into our program here and help us take a step forward.
Favorite strength training activity?
What would you consider a “fun” practice?
When people swim fast and compete. I love it when we we see a little healthy competition in practice or when someone steps up and has a breakthrough in practice.
Favorite facility to compete?
IUPUI — I love the tradition that’s there and downtown Indy is great too. Plus, at this point, if we’re swimming there chances are it’s March and we did something right leading up to that meet!
Do you follow any other sports?
LOVE baseball, always have. I had a little problem throwing strikes though, apparently that’s important for pitchers. That probably contributed to me swimming in college.
What was your major in college?
Instant Messaging, back when people had AOL. Seriously though I was a Business Management major, Comm minor.
What is your favorite book and/or movie?
Same Kind of Different Than Me by Ron Hall & Denver Moore. If you haven’t read it, go get it. Right now, it’s that good.