When Danny Jakobs last strode the sidelines as the head coach of the Mission Roadrunners’ boys basketball team in February, he wasn’t sentimental about it.
“I’m not really a ‘looking back’ kind of guy,” Jakobs said. “I’m not very nostalgic in that way.”
After over 30 years as a basketball coach, football coach, and physical education teacher at Mission Secondary, Jakobs is hanging up the whistle and retiring.
“Thirty-two years have gone by really fast,” Jakobs said. “If I wasn’t happy here, I would have moved, but I love it.”
His time with the Roadrunners is highlighted by a “double” in 2010-2011 where Mission Secondary won the football and boys’ basketball provincial banners.
However, Jakobs’ favourite memories from his three decades of coaching aren’t the wins.
“The thing I enjoy most is when ex-athletes come back and they’re doing well in the community and with their families,” he said.
Jakobs coached his youngest son, Kristjan, during the double-provincial run and he says coaching his kids was a highlight of his tenure.
“My boys came through Mission Secondary and I coached them in both basketball and football and I just absolutely loved that,” he said.
The Manitoba product moved to Mission with his wife in 1991 after he went back to university for his education degree.
“I started coaching as many teams as I could then,” Jakobs said. “If it was sports related, I loved it. I just love the x’s and o’s. I love dealing with athletes and trying to make them better.”
Before teaching, he played football at the University of Manitoba from 1980-83 and was drafted by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the CFL. He played in exhibition games and made the practice roster but little came of it.
Jakobs coached boys basketball before he helped start the Mission Roadrunners football program in 2003. He says coaching basketball and football is different but they both have their charm.
“With basketball, you get to know the kids a little better,” Jakobs said. “Football is a lot more work. You’re dealing with anywhere from 25 to 35 guys on the cold, wet field, coordinating other coaches and doing a lot of film work. I would spend hours each week breaking down film and writing up plays.”
Jakobs says his biggest priority when coaching is developing young men, while winning is lower on the list.
“You constantly change and adapt what you do,” Jakobs said. “When you’re younger, winning’s more important. As you get older, it’s more about giving good kids a positive experience and keeping them in school.”
Despite wins, losses, hours of practice and ice-cold football weather, Jakobs’ passion for coaching allows him to remain committed.
“I do it because I love it,” he said. “When it’s hard work, it feels better in the end. When you’re doing well with the game and things go right, it feels good when you put that much work into it.”
His son Nico now teaches at Mission Secondary and Danny hopes he takes over his current role. Even after retiring, Jakobs still doesn’t plan to completely give up coaching.
“I’ll help with track and field and then I’ll move on to whatever life brings me afterwards,” he said.
Life will bring him more football. After he retires from teaching, Jakobs will coach tackle football in Europe in
either Valencia, Spain or Nice, France.
“My wife wants somewhere warm so I’m letting her pick the city,” he said.