March 14, 2009

Pike Youth Soccer Club coach earns national honor

National award takes Isang Jacob by surprise

By Nat Newell

Isang Jacob has played soccer in front of more than 40,000 people, but he’s never been as nervous as he was waiting for the announcement of the U.S. Youth Soccer Competitive Coach of the Year Award on March 6.

The Pike Youth Soccer Club coach, who was so sure he wouldn’t be named the organization’s state coach of the year that he took his shoes off at the banquet to be more comfortable, was chosen from four regional winners by the U.S. Youth Soccer board of directors at the Youth Soccer Workshop in San Jose, Calif. The award is based on sportsmanship, player development, personal coaching development and community involvement.

"I was truly humbled and surprised when I won the state award," said Jacob. He has led the Indy Burn 90 Premier Eagles to seven consecutive state championships and has had all of his players earn scholarships, 17 of them to Division I programs. "Getting the regional (award) blew me away. I opened the letter and started shaking, then I called everyone I knew. I’ve never been more nervous in my life (when the national award was announced). I don’t deserve it. There are so many great coaches across the country."

Jacob was an assistant coach at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis after playing at Indiana Wesleyan, but while recruiting, he decided players in the Indianapolis area needed to develop better fundamentals. He quit IUPUI and started working as a volunteer coach with younger players.

"I wanted to give them practical knowledge, the right technique and help them be fine young men and citizens," Jacob said. "I’ve been with this group since they were 11 and have retained 75 percent of them. I had everyone tell me it would not work. But I sit back and see these kids going to Harvard, Cornell, Butler, IUPUI, West Virginia. . . . I’m truly honored and humbled."

Jacob, who also was named Indiana’s coach of the year in 2004, serves as the head of Indiana’s U.S. Youth Soccer Olympic Development Program. He was a two-time NCCAA All-American and was invited to play on the Nigerian Senior National Team in 1991.

"I believe many of us at the Pike Soccer Club are still a bit unbelieving of this award," Pike Youth Soccer Club Executive Director Tom Geisse said in an e-mail. "Oft times we don’t think many folks outside Indianapolis recognize the long hours and hard work of the Pike Soccer Club coaches for the past 30 years. Today, the families of Pike Youth Soccer Club are very proud of Isang Jacob’s accomplishments on and off the field during his decade of service to Indianapolis youth."

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