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Jacobsma takes reigns at Central

Mike Jacobsma

PELLA, Iowa -- The first college coaching job Mike Jacobsma had was a graduate assistant position for a few dollars a month.

He's come a long way since then.

Jacobsma, a 1996 graduate of Sibley-Ocheyedan High School, was recently named the head women's basketball coach at Central College, a Division III school which plays in the Iowa Conference.

"Central College is a perfect fit for me and my family," Jacobsma said. "Professionally, it's an opportunity to lead a program and start over. It's a new beginning. It's my job to build a championship program here and build champions on and off the court and prepare these young ladies to be leaders in their communities after they graduate."

After a career where he was a three-sport athlete at S-O, Jacobsma attended Wayne State College in Nebraska.

But it was the game of basketball that really caught his attention from a young age.

"Being one of six kids, our family farmed and my dad being a coach, that's what we did," Jacobsma said. "If we weren't working in the fields, we were playing ball, whether it was basketball or football or baseball. Probably March Madness really affected me as a young coach. Watching that and seeing the excitement in the men's and women's tournaments and seeing the passion and energy that the fans had for the teams really drew me to basketball. I love basketball."

He helped his father coach the high school softball team at S-O during his first summer of college.

"My freshman year of college, I had to drive from Wayne to Orange City for three months, two times a week, to get my coaching certificate," Jacobsma said. "I put a lot of miles on to become my dad's assistant coach."

From there, it was a junior high coaching position in a small down in Nebraska.

"I started out coaching junior high basketball in Laurel, Neb. I coached seventh and eighth grade girls one year and then coached seventh and eighth grade boys the next year," he explained.

After a stint as a Legion baseball coach, he took a position as a graduate assistant at Wayne State.

"I was offered a graduate position for $1,200," Jacobsma said. "My first college job was $100 a month. I turned down a third-grade teaching job for $28,000. My passion was in coaching. I was young and single at the time and I knew that's what I wanted to do. The second year, I was promoted to a full-time assistant."

He never thought twice about leaving the coaching profession.

"It wasn't about the money for me," Jacobsma said. "The coaching profession is definitely a lifestyle. I've chosen that and it's been really positive for me. I've been coaching since I was 19 years old. I've been coaching for 14 years. I started out as one of my dad's assistant coaches on the softball team."

After WSC, Jacobsma took a job at the Colorado School of Mines.

"Recruiting there definitely made me the recruiter I am today," he said. "You have to go after female student athletes that are geared toward engineering majors that have a 27-plus ACT. My job was to get on the telephone and call as many coaches around the country as I could just to find the right fit for our program."

It was then on to the University of Evansville in Indiana, where he was an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator.

"At the University of Evansville, the Missouri Valley, top to bottom, is one of the toughest mid-major conferences," he said. "I helped prepare and scout our teams against Texas A&M, Purdue, Bowling Green, Colorado, so I've been at the national level against some of the best teams in the country. Now at the Central College, I'm going against some of the best Division III schools in the country."

While the Dutch were 5-20 last year, there is a rich tradition at the school.

"They won a national championship back in 1993. Looking at this job from the outside, I knew they had to have the resources, the facilities and the commitment to excellence and I would love to be a part of that," Jacobsma said. "I'm a winner. I've been a winner everywhere I've been. I'm just grateful for this opportunity to lead this program."

He signed the offer and immediately left for a scheduled vacation in Prague. While overseas, the Jacobsmas were able to sell their house, find a place to live in Pella and set up doctor's appointments as they are expected their second child in September.

"I have an excellent wife that keeps me organized," he said. "She's the head coach of our family."

Now, he's already started working toward next season. With the excitement, comes high expectations.

"I expect to win every night," he said. "We're going to put ourselves in a situation to strive for that everyday. I really believe if you strive for perfection everyday, you're going to achieve excellence throughout that process. The wins are going to take care of themselves, they really will. We just have to do things the right way and be first class all the time and hold ourselves accountable."

He hopes to do that through an up-tempo style of play.

"We want to get up and down, press, trap and run and gun," Jacobsma said. "But the girls have to earn that. They've turned the ball over too much in the past. We have to go back to square one and fundamentals. If we get a defensive stop, push it. If not, then we have to run a set."

While there will be some work before Central is ready to compete on a conference and national level, Jacobsma is ready for the challenge.

"I'm really excited," he said. "It's an opportunity that the administration here felt confident in me to lead this program. I'm going to make 100 mistakes, but it's my job to learn from those and get back up every time we fall. I believe the sky is the limit with this job here."