Celebrating Coach Doug Jacobson
Written By: Michelle Kommer
There comes a time in your life where you realize that your childhood memories, made through a child’s eyes and precious growing mind, may not necessarily reflect a story or event in the exact same way that an adult would. For example, have you ever returned to the merry-go-round at your elementary school playground (if it has not been removed for violation of modern safety code…how did they let us play on those things?!), only to realize that the playground was nowhere near the giant expanse of land that you recalled as a child? Or maybe you returned to a house you grew up in, to find that it SO much smaller than you remember?
This story is told through a child’s mind, about a man who, although I’ve not seen him except in passing for decades, influences me still today. I thank him for an important lesson that he taught me, and the many others who shared my experiences. Whether he knew it or intended to, Coach Jacobson taught me to persevere through tough times with these simple words: “YOU CAN DO ANYTHING FOR THREE MINUTES”.
He was a giant of a man, as least that is how I remember him. He had a distinctively full head of silver hair. As a young teenager, I’m sure I thought he was “old”, although in retrospect I would guess he was in his forties (?) at the time. He had a deep voice, a loud and fantastic laugh, and fingers the size of pop cans. From time to time, I found one of those large index fingers deservedly pointed directly at me, accompanied by some “corrective verbal instruction”. (Looking up at Coach Jacobson with his finger pointing back at you was not a position one really wanted to find themselves in.)
Coach Jacobson held many roles in the small community I grew up in, as small-town leaders do. He was the girls’ basketball coach, high school principal… and my family’s next-door neighbor. The scene where the lesson occurred was the high school gym – hot and sweaty (back then, girls’ basketball was in the fall, and started in August in an un-airconditioned gym!). Coach’s favorite drill, and the players’ least so, was an exercise that ended most practices, or was a consequence of poor performance at some time during the practice, or someone’s tardiness, or sometimes seemingly for no reason at all. It was called…the CRUSHER. The drill has gone by other names, but you’d recognize it this way – starting at one end of the gym – GO! Run to the free-throw line, back to baseline; to half court, back to baseline; to the far free-throw line, back to baseline; to the other end of the gym, and back to baseline. That is ONE. One drill to build speed, agility, endurance, and little did we know it then – character. Being competitive, I’d work hard to at least not carry up the rear. I became familiar with the taste of blood in my throat and the pain of not being able to catch my breath. There were times I thought I’d fall over dead, and he must have seen this because right then (every time), he would bellow “DON’T STOP NOW. KEEP GOING. YOU CAN DO ANYTHING FOR THREE MINUTES!”
Sounds like a regular day in practice for a lot of athletes, so I could have never expected at the time, that over the next thirty-five years when I would encounter tough situations – physical, mental, emotional – I would hear Coach’s words and see the look in his eye as clearly as if I were in that hot gym with him again. Whether persisting through a difficult work conversation, through exhaustion with a crying baby who won’t sleep, or some other struggle (even if it lasts longer than three minutes), because of Coach Jacobson’s encouragement I have been reminded thousands of times that most struggles are temporary, and to persist, because I am stronger than I think.
“Don’t stop now. Keep going. You can do anything for three minutes.”
Thank you Coach.