By Tom Nader
Publisher and Editor
The “Getting to Know” series is designed to help the community learn more about the coaches and administrators that are guiding today’s Portage County student-athletes to be tomorrow’s leaders.
Today, we get to know Windham High School football and baseball coach Jake Eye, who is in his third year as the Bombers’ football head coach and second year as the baseball head coach.
A: Windham, Ohio.
Q: High school?
A: Windham High School (Class of 1993). Played football, basketball and baseball.
A: Ohio University. Class of 1997. Degree in Sports Industry.
Q: Current occupation?
A: Maintenance, transportation and grounds director for Windham School District.
Q: What inspired you to become a coach?
A: I was inspired to be able to relish in others’ successes. I enjoy working with young adults aspiring to be the best they can be and to be able to have a helping hand in that is very gratifying. Relationships as a coach, that you develop with your players over the course of a season or career, are life changing. Lifetime friendships built through athletics are some of the best friendships you can have and coaching has certainly done that for me.
Q: What makes being a coach at Windham special to you?
A: We are a very small community, and we are often faced with lack of numbers. For those that put on the Black and Gold, knowing we are always going to be an underdog facing teams with twice the numbers, says a lot about the heart of a small group of athletes. These kids will never back down and regardless of the outcomes, they will always bounce back. I love coaching these kids and and being part of that never-back-down mindset.
Q: Who has been your biggest influence?
A: My father, Larry. He has always been my go to in athletics from growing up as a kid and even now as an adult.
Q: Funny story nobody would believe from your playing days?
A: I have many funny stories from my playing days, but here is just one of many. In high school, on a game day, I got my finger stuck in a pop can and when I was finally able to get it out, it sliced my finger causing me to have to get stitches. I still played in the game!
Q: Funny story nobody would believe from your coaching days?
A: In 2001, I was Jerry Kiser’s assistant football coach, and we beat Fairport in the regional championship game. During the celebration, I bear hugged coach Kiser and broke two of his ribs.
Q: Favorite TV show?
A: SportsCenter, The Voice, Goldrush and Outdoor Channel.
Q: Favorite movie?
A: Top Gun Maverick, Rocky, The Hangover, Moneybag.
Q: Favorite musical artist?
A: Metallica, Pearl Jam, Prince, Bob Seger.
Q: Favorite meal?
A: Spaghetti or venison steak.
Q: Best vacation?
A: Every year, we plan a family and friends vacation and every year, we always have the greatest time. This summer, we are vacationing to Norris Lake, Tenn. We also enjoy Key West.
Q: Shoutout for former teammates?
A: Brian Kiser, Floyd Shackleford, Jeff Edge, Dana Fall, Derrick McGhee.
Q: Favorite quote?
A: I have a couple: “It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish” … “If this was your last game ever, play the way you want to be remembered.”
Q: Describe your coaching philosophy?
A: Always have the well being of your players at heart and always go to bat for them. Hold your players accountable, but at the end of the day, make sure they know you care about them. It builds trust and ultimately they will will more eager to learn and become not only better players, but better people. I used to be a pretty demanding style of coach, but as I’ve grown, I have realized building relationships with your players carries more weight and is very rewarding.
Q: Favorite restaurant?
A: Conch Republic (Key West) and Texas Roadhouse.
Q: Favorite teacher from high school?
A: Mr. Rankin and Mrs. Bowers.
Q: Advice you would give the younger version of yourself?
A: I would tell myself to not be so bull-headed and be more adaptive. To concentrate on the bigger picture and enjoy the process. It is not a race. Enjoy the little things.
Q: Favorite coach from your playing days?
A: My dad. He was always my favorite coach growing up, and I always looked to him for guidance. Other favorites were Coach Hart, Coach Kiser, Coach Pozsgai, Coach Hill, Coach Toadvine and Coach Carbone.
Q: Coaching resume?
A: I have been coaching high-school baseball off and on since 2000 and I am currently the head coach at Windham High School. I have been coaching high-school football since 2015 and have been the head coach at Windham High School since 2019. I have also coached junior-high basketball for eight years.
Q: Favorite sports team?
A: I am going to catch hat for this, but here it goes: The New York Yankees. Honorable mentions are the Browns and the Ohio State Buckeyes.
Q: Favorite athlete then?
A: Don Mattingly, John Smoltz, Joe Montana and Michael Jordan.
Q: Favorite athlete now?
A: My kids. Honorable mention is Shohei Ohtani.
Q: First job as a teenager?
A: Pin setter at a bowling alley inside the Ravenna Arsenal. I would sit between the lanes in the crossfire and set pins after the ball came through.
Q: Family member that always gave you the best advice?
A: My parents. They always gave me the best advice growing up. I didn’t always listen. These days, my kids and wife are always giving me advice. Good and bad!
Q: Halloween costume last year?
A: I have not dressed up for Halloween in quite a while, but I was told I don’t need to because I am scary as I am.
Q: Favorite video game?
A: Pitfall, Pac-Man, Zelda, Tecmo Bowl, Mike Tyson Punch-Out.
Q: Can you play any instruments?
Q: Favorite candy?
A: Heath Bar, Milky Way and Gummy Bears.
Q: First car?
A: 1980 Blue Pontiac Sunbird.