Andy Jakubowski has developed a strong baseball program in 11 seasons at Huntley, where the Red Raiders have won at least 21 games in seven of the last eight years.
This season was special as Huntley, with only two seniors in the regular lineup, won its second Class 4A sectional championship in school history.
Jakubowski was voted by the sports staff the Northwest Herald Baseball Coach of the Year, nudging out candidates such as Cary-Grove’s Don Sutherland, Crystal Lake South’s Brian Bogda and Prairie Ridge’s Glen Pecoraro.
Jakubowski played his high school ball at Fremd, played NCAA Division I baseball as a second baseman at Northeastern Illinois University and now has a 235-168 record in his time at Huntley.
Here are sports writer Joe Stevenson's questions and Jakubowski's answers:
Stevenson: What sports moment was so huge that you’ll always remember where you were when it happened?
Jakubowski: I have three: 1) Winning the supersectional at Road Ranger Stadium in 2010 on an obstruction call that gave us an automatic double play and a 2-1 win; 2) Winning our own sectional this year and seeing the players celebrate on our own field – priceless; and 3) The The White Sox winning the World Series in 2005. Chopper to Uribe and he makes a run-through play to Paulie – out, out! A White Sox winner and a world championship. I rolled over and told my wife [Michelle] that I could die now.
Stevenson: What made you want to teach English?
Jakubowski: I had a speech teacher at Fremd that helped me overcome my fear of speaking in public. I know what she did for me, and I wanted to do the same for others, so that is why I got into education. Originally, I wanted to be a sports broadcaster either on radio or TV. When I realized that I didn’t have the voice for radio nor the face for TV, then I decided to go into education to help students succeed just like my speech teacher did for me.
Stevenson: If you could have a sandwich named in your honor, what would be on it and what would you call it?
Jakubowski: White bread, lettuce, spicy mustard, tomato, cucumbers, green peppers, jalapenos, turkey and ham. I would call it "The Hit King."
Stevenson: Who was an unheralded player on your team that you will remember for a long time?
Jakubowski: All of our players will have a deep place in my heart for the memories of this season. One of the players who made this season memorable was pitcher Luc Sibert. He was one of our captains and was responsible for keeping our players loose, coming up with ideas for theme practice days and demonstrating a strong work ethic on a day-in, day-out basis for our younger guys to follow. Luc will be sorely missed for all the intangibles he brought every day.
Stevenson: What is the best part of coaching?
Jakubowski: The best part is to help players move on to the next level and play collegiate baseball while getting a quality education. I also love coming out to practice each day and seeing our team grow as a unit. We try to compete each and every day whether it is a modified scrimmage off live pitching or relay races for conditioning. Finally, I love game days and the opportunity to compete against top-notch talent in the Fox Valley Conference, as well as our nonconference schedule.
Stevenson: What is your most creative line you ever used with an umpire?
Jakubowski: I know I have a reputation for being a fiery individual, but I am not sure if I have a creative line. I sometimes yell to the ump: "Call him out for being stupid."
Stevenson: What would be your walk-up song?
Jakubowski: “Don’t Stop Believin,’ ” by Journey, the 2005 World Series champs. I am still living in the past.
Stevenson: What is one of your biggest pet peeves?
Jakubowski: Someone not giving 100 percent. There is one thing that we can all control, and that is our work ethic and hustle, so what ever you do, you should do it to the best of your ability.
Stevenson: What sports celebrity would you most like to hang with for a day?
Jakubowski: Pete Rose, my idol. He played the game the right way, and I tried to emulate him to the best of my ability when I played. I still remember that night, Sept. 11, 1985, Pete lined a single off Eric Show into left-center field, and it was fielded by Carmelo Martinez for his 4,192nd hit to break Ty Cobb’s record. He hugged first-base coach Tommy Helms, and Pete Jr. came out and hugged Pete as well. I was numb seeing my idol break a record that was supposed to be insurmountable. Obviously, Pete had some off-the-field issues, but no one can ever take away what he did on the field.
Stevenson: What was the funniest thing that happened in a dugout this season?
Jakubowski: The Rain Delay Theater (in the sectional) against Grant was pretty cool. Each side was trying to one-up one another by doing funny things like playing “Tic-Tac-Toe” (on baseballs) to pull-ups and air squats. Both sides were pretty creative. Assistant coach Nick Kostalek wrote inspirational/funny things on our lineup card that made the players laugh and loosen up before games.